AUSTIN (KXAN) — A mother was cited for leaving her children unattended in a hot car June 12, after a bystander called 911.
Police were notified around 3:56 p.m. that two children, a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old, were left in a car with the windows rolled up. The mother, Hoa Nguyen, was gone an estimated 20 minutes while she went into a Target near Lakeline Mall, leaving her car off.
“I was sitting in the car with my best friend’s mom and we noticed a lady, she was standing by a car and on her phone, she was looking in the windows a lot and checking the license plate,” remembers 18-year-old, Mikayla Calhoun. “We asked her if she needed help and she said there were two toddlers in the back seat, locked in.”
Calhoun says the children’s mother was no where in sight. She says the children were crying and screaming.
“I was just standing there like, ‘Oh my gosh, what do I do?’ Because you worry, how long have they been in there? How long until the mom comes back”
She says as the mother came out of the store, first responders arrived not long after. Calhoun says the mother attempted to get in the car and drive away, but that witnesses stopped her.
“She said she had to run into target for a few minutes and get an item. It turned out to be 15-20 minutes.”
Calhoun says the children’s hair was glued to their face in sweat. She says she was struck by the heroism of the firefighters, snapping a picture of them with the children.
“I was just focused on the firefighters, the fact that they were doing such an amazing job trying entertain the kids and make them feel better. I thought it was amazing because you don’t see that everyday,” said Calhoun.
The Austin Fire Department said the temperature was 94 degrees with a high heat index that felt like 100. The children were rescued from the hot car by firefighters before they were harmed.
“Leave no living thing unattended in a vehicle. Even with the windows rolled down, it still is not enough to ward off a true heat emergency,” said Commander Mike Benavides, with Austin Travis County EMS.
Firefighters issued a reminder to parents to never leave their kids or pets in the car. Temperatures can swiftly rise in the Texas heat, which could prove deadly. Since the beginning of the year, 12 children have died from heatstroke after being left in cars.
A 3-month-old baby died in August 2015 when he was left in a parked car at a Southeast Austin Waffle House. A case against the father was presented to a Travis County grand jury, which decided not to indict him.