September 2, 2014

Burleson grandmother accused of leaving child in hot car

An unidentified woman heard the child screaming and pulled her from the car.

A Burleson grandmother remained in the Crowley Jail on Tuesday, accused of leaving her 2-year-old granddaughter in a hot car Monday in a Wal-Mart parking lot, police said.

Crowley police identified the grandmother as Deborah Reece, 60, who was expected to be charged with one count of abandoning or endangering a child. Her bail was set at $20,000.

The incident occurred at about 5:40 p.m. Monday at a Wal-Mart at 1221 Farm Road 1187 in Crowley. A woman in the parking lot heard the child screaming and found her alone in a child safety seat.

“The windows are up and the car is not running,” Crowley police officer C.C. Meadows said Tuesday in a telephone interview. “The woman looks around trying to find somebody. She found the door unlocked and got the child out.”

The high temperature Monday was 97 at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, according to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.

“The child was dripping in sweat and her hair was all wet,” Meadows said.

Through a store surveillance video, investigators determined that the girl was alone in the vehicle for almost an hour. Studies show that on average, temperatures inside a vehicle can increase by 19 degrees in 10 minutes and 34 degrees in 30 minutes.

A second woman walked up, and both women started looking for the child’s mother or the car’s driver. A Crowley police officer who was responding to a separate call in the store walked out and the women flagged the officer down, Meadows said. Paramedics were called.

“The officer and women waited another 20 minutes before a woman with groceries walked out of the store and to the car,” Meadows said.

The woman, later identified as Reece, told officers that her granddaughter had apparently fallen asleep and that she didn’t realize that the child was left in the car, Meadows said.

The girl was taken to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth for observation. Her condition was unavailable Tuesday.

24 deaths this year

A total of 24 children left in vehicles died of heatstroke this year in the United States, according to the Heatstroke Deaths of Children in Vehicles website. Three were in Texas, including the April 22 death of 20-month-old Aurora Aryana Hollingsworth of North Richland Hills, who was left in a car for about eight hours.

Her grandfather, who told authorities that he forgot to drop the child off at a day-care center and forgot she was inside the vehicle, was arrested on a charge of injury to a child by omission.

In 51 percent of the heatstroke death cases from 1998 to 2013, the caregiver forgot about the child, Jan Null, a California-based meteorologist who runs the website, told the Star-Telegram.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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