Authorities in California arrested a 34-year-old woman after bystanders reported finding two toddlers inside a hot SUV earlier this month.
According to the Daily Bulletin, Crystal Reyna Gonzales was arrested on July 8 on suspicion of child cruelty.
She was booked into jail by Ontario authorities and was later released after posting $100,000 bail.
It was unclear from initial reports whether the suspect was the 1-year-old and 9-month-old children’s biological mother but she reportedly identified herself to police as their mother.
Detective Melissa Ramirez said the woman was believed to have been in the local Walmart shopping center for about 30 minutes, during which time the children were in an SUV in the parking lot.
“The AC was not on, the windows were slightly cracked, but the car was off and the doors were locked,” she said.
Ramirez said investigators were examining additional evidence, including surveillance footage, to determine an exact time frame.
Authorities were first informed of the situation after shoppers took notice of the children during the hot day with temperatures reaching triple digits.
Curtis Owens said he saw the poor parking job and took notice as he passed the vehicle in the lot at about 7:45 p.m.
“That’s the first thing I notice,” he said. “Then I hear music. The music is playing but I didn’t see anyone inside. Then my daughter says, ‘I think someone is in there.’ I look in the backseat and that’s when I see the car seat and I see the toddler.”
He said others began to take notice of his “frantic” actions and he soon began recording the events for a Facebook Live video.
More than 10 minutes later, police arrived. Owens said it was hard for him to remain patient until officials — including paramedics who examined the children at the scene — arrived.
“I honestly wanted to pull those babies out and hold them until someone arrived,” he said.
[Featured image: video screenshot]