Grapevine mom investigated after children left alone in bitter cold

A mother might face criminal charges after her children, ages 5 and 7, were left unattended at a Grapevine elementary school Thursday morning after temperatures had plunged below freezing.

Officers at 7:14 a.m. Thursday went to Cannon Elementary School at 1300 W. College Street where a nurse on her way to work at nearby Baylor Regional Medical Center saw the children alone in the parking lot and called police.

Grapevine-Colleyville schools announced late openings Thursday because of the massive arctic air mass that arrived a few hours earlier in North Texas, packing cold air and stiff winds.

It was 24 degrees with a wind chill in the single digits at 7 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.

Lt. Todd Dearing, police spokesman, said Friday that he did not know how long the children were unattended.

He said, however, that the mother, who was on her way to work, heard on the car radio that the school was closed, so she went back to get her children.

By the time she got there, police were already on scene, Dearing said.

"She made a mistake, she knows she made a mistake, and now we're investigating the case to see if we'll be filing criminal charges," Dearing said.

The possible charge is "abandoning or endangering a child," which is a state jail felony punishable by up to two years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Child Protective Services were notified about the case, Dearing said.

Marissa Gonzales, CPS spokeswoman, said the children were not in in the custody of that agency and she therefore could not say if CPS was involved in the case.

Dearing said that leaving children unattended in any weather is wrong.

"It's kind of hard for us to make a statement now because this is still under investigation," he said, "but everybody needs to pay attention to their children, where they are and what they're doing."