Greenville, N.C. (WNCT) – Police arrested 21-year-old Ashley Caroline Garris after they said she left her 2-year-old baby inside a hot locked car.
It happened around 1:49 p.m. Thursday in the parking lot of Zoe’s Kitchen on Evans Street in Greenville.
Officers arriving at the scene said they found several bystanders trying to help. Fortunately, Greenville Police officer Elliot Gruhn was able to unlock the door by reaching his hand through the cracked window of the car. The little boy was in the back seat, secured in his car seat.
Police said that temperatures inside the car ranged from 104 to 116 degrees Fahrenheit.
Officer Gruhn took the toddler inside the restaurant to cool him down. The toddler was then transported to Vidant Medical Center just as a precaution. He’s expected to be okay.
“I’m just happy that I was a short distance away and was able to respond,” said Gruhn. “It’s very dangerous, and it’s about to be summer time so we want to just get the word out and educate people that you should not leave your child in a car.”
Garris was located about thirty minutes after police arrived on the scene. She’d been inside Ulta Beauty shopping for approximately an hour while her baby was locked in the car. She was arrested and charged with misdemeanor child abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
DSS Child Protective services is now involved in the case and Garris has been prohibited from having contact with the child.
Vidant Medical Center injury prevention coordinator Ellen Walston said it surprises people how fast these things happen.
“A car’s temperature can rise 30 degrees in 20 minutes so cracking the windows does not make a difference,” said Walston.
Dr. Shannon Longshore explained what actually happens to your body when you are sitting in a hot car.
“When you reach a temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit with a heat stroke you start having confusion, difficulty breathing; your heart rate goes up,” said Longshore.
Dr. Longshore says that’s when the body may begin to shut down.
“If the organs are damaged, especially the brain and the heart you cannot get that back,” said Longshore.
For children, the consequences may be worse.
“A child will heat up three to five times faster than an adult, and they usually are in a restraint seat and have no capability to get out themselves,” said Longshore.
There are several things you can do to prevent overheating. Click here for a list.