CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Charleston Police are sounding the alarm after they said several children were left in cars over the past few days in separate incidents.
“We have seen an uptick in it recently, and we do want to bring awareness to what’s happening in our community,” said Katrina Billie, a detective at the Charleston Police Department.
According to police, 55-year-old Pamela Lawson is accused of leaving her 3-year-old granddaughter in the car while she allegedly shoplifted in Big Lots in West Ashley for about an hour over the weekend.
Officers said they were called to the parking lot after two people found the young girl without any clothes on in a blue Honda Civic that was off with no air conditioning. First responders said the back right window was halfway down.
“During that time the victim got extremely overheated and had to cut her own clothes off, “ said Billie.
The young girl was taken to the hospital and is ok, according to police. Lawson was charged with Unlawful Conduct Towards a Child.
According to another police report, 32-year-old Bianca Chemere Ward and two other unnamed women allegedly shoplifted at the Citadel Mall on August 4th. Officers determined Ward left three children unattended in her car, while inside the mall. Police said one of the unnamed suspects is the children’s mother. It’s unclear if the car was off or on. Ward was charged with three counts of Cruelty to Children.
Another police report from August 1st shows police responded to the parking lot of TJ Maxx along Sam Rittenberg after receiving a call for a child left in a vehicle that wasn’t running. According to the report, two witnesses said they saw the child inside of a black Chevrolet Traverse and said he was “profusely sweating and was in distress.” They said the child motioned for them to come over to him and was gesturing to the sun.
According to the report, 43-year-old Constance Allegood claimed she went in the store for 15 minutes and left the air on. The report said, “there was no puddle of condensation beneath the car indicating that the A/C was running.”
The child was taken to the hospital. Allegood was charged with Unlawful Conduct Towards a Child.
According to Dr. Danielle Metzler with Roper St. Francis, being stuck inside a hot car can put a person at risk for heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. She said children and elderly people are more vulnerable in these situations.
“Leaving a child in a hot car can result in a fatal event within 20 to 60 minutes,” said Metzler.
Metzler said a car sitting in direct sunlight on a 100-degree day can reach temperatures as high as 120 within an hour.
Police are reminding citizens to never leave a child or animal in the car, whether it’s running or not.