TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A Florida man was concerned when he saw a woman leave a child alone in her car outside a Tampa convenience store, so he grabbed his cell phone and started recording.
Tony Strong stopped at the WaWa on Nebraska Avenue in North Tampa for a cup of coffee during a recent trip from Fort Myers to Tampa. When Strong parked at the convenience store, he noticed a woman got out of her car and left a child in the backseat, without the air conditioner running.
Strong pulled out his phone, started recording and then confronted her.
The video shows Strong walking around the woman’s car, then walking into the store where he found her getting a beverage out of the freezer.
In the recording he says, “This is the woman who left her kid in the car.”
Strong confronts her, but she ignores him. He asks her again why she left the boy in the car to which she responds, “He’s perfectly fine. The air conditioner was on.”
He keeps recording as she walks out of the store, gets in her car and drives off.
The video lasts 3 minutes and 38 seconds. Strong doesn’t know exactly how long the child was left in the car.
His concern was for the child’s safety.
“I know in the summertime it’s a big issue. Kids die all the time. I’m not sure what the high was that day, but a car can heat up pretty quickly,” he says.
Many who saw the video argued that the woman was only inside the store for a few minutes, and said they use discretion when deciding if they should leave their own child in a car. Many said the decision could depend on how old the child is, if the air on, the location and how long the child would be in the car.
Petra Vybybiralova is the Safe Kids Supervisor at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. She recommends that parents never leave children unattended in cars, no matter what the situation may be.
However, this woman may have not have been doing anything illegal. While Strong doesn’t know how old the child was, he says the boy wasn’t an infant and he could talk.
According to Florida State Law, a parent, legal guardian, or any other person responsible for a child, younger than 6 years of age, may not leave the child unattended or unsupervised in a motor vehicle, for a period in excess of 15 minutes, if the motor is running, or if the child’s health is at risk.
The NoHeatStroke website, which is maintained by a San Jose State University researcher, reports 39 child died of heat stroke in a car in 2016.
Vybybiralova says, mistakes are made where parents get busy or distracted and accidentally leave their children in their car. She says there are things that parents can do to help them remember a child is in the car. The tips include setting an alarm for when you know you’ll be home, or to leaving something like a shoe in your backseat just as a precautionary reminder.