Police have arrested a Texas grandmother and accused her of leaving her 2-year-old grandson in a hot van for nearly 25 minutes.
KVUE reports that Leia Lanette Payne, 54 left the toddler in the van on Tuesday while she went into a Ross Department Store. An arrest report alleges that a passerby discovered the child screaming and crying from inside the scorching vehicle, which had one window open at the time.
A responding officer realized the car was unlocked and took the toddler out. An affidavit claimed that the sweat-soaked child was hot to the touch and the temperatures in the van reached 130 degrees—even after the officer opened the door.
The 2-year-old was taken to a nearby hospital and was treated for heat exhaustion. He was released a few hours later, according to KXAN.
Payne is alleged to have arrived at the van as the officer rescued her grandson. Though she reportedly told officers that she was inside the store for a short while, surveillance footage supposedly showed the grandmother was inside for nearly 25 minutes.
“A 2-year-old doesn’t have the coping mechanism to be able to get out of the car seat, turn the car on, turn on the air conditioning, roll down windows. They have no clue. We’re their caregivers. We have to take care of them. If we don’t do that, it could be catastrophic,” Georgetown Police Captain Roland Waits told KXAN. “We’re fortunate it wasn’t [catastrophic] because people got involved. Fortunately, somebody was paying attention.”
Hot-car related deaths are a serious, growing issue. Shockingly, 37 children have died so far this year after being left in cars, according to NoHeatstroke.org.
Payne was charged with abandoning and endangering a child with intent to return and booked into the Williamson County jail.
[Featured Image: Georgetown Police Department]