This two week old baby is still in her parent’s custody!!!
Infant left inside car; 2 charged
**By Scott Thistle** , Regional Editor
Friday, November 17, 2006 OXFORD - A Poland couple were charged with child endangerment after they left their 2-week-old baby in the car while they shopped at Wal-Mart on Wednesday morning.
Oxford Police Officer Alan Coffin said he issued summonses to Christopher Butts and Jessica Smith, both 21, after he found the couple’s car in the store parking lot with an unattended infant inside.
“I can’t imagine leaving a 2-week old baby alone in the car,” Coffin said. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services was also notified and is looking into the family’s situation, Coffin said.
Coffin said he could not say what the couple were shopping for or whether they had any explanation for leaving the infant alone in the vehicle. “It’s still an active case,” he said.
Police were notified that the baby was alone in the car by a citizen calling 911 about 7:15 a.m., Coffin said.
Coffin waited with the baby until the parents returned and then issued the summonses, he said. “The incident didn’t really take that long,” he said. “I was there five minutes or so when they came out.”
It’s not only illegal to leave a child unattended in a motor vehicle in Maine it is also life-threatening, especially in extreme hot or cold weather situations, child health and safety experts said Thursday.
The risk of child abduction is another major concern, said Terrill Struttman, the executive director of KidsinCars.Org, a St. Louis-based nonprofit that works to educate parents and caregivers about the dangers associated with leaving children unattended in vehicles.
“You are exposing your child to predators who are out there, and a car thief can be in a car in seconds,” Struttman said. “I know a lot of parents and caregivers just don’t realize how dangerous it is and how many bad things can happen in a matter of mere moments.”
Infants can also become entangled in the straps of their car seats and strangled or may choke on their own vomit if nobody is there to care for them.
Struttman founded KidsinCars.Org to help educate others. In 1998, his own 2-year-old son, Harrison, was killed when another child, left unattended in a van with the engine running, engaged the gearshift causing the van to lurch forward and run into Harrison, who was sitting on a park bench with his mother.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta showed that from July 2000 to June 2001, more than 9,160 children sustained injuries from being left unattended in cars.
The study looked at emergency room records nationwide and likely the figure is a low estimate because it doesn’t reflect any injuries that were treated by parents or by family doctors, Struttman said.
“It’s just never safe to leave a child inside a vehicle,” Struttman said.
Smith and Butts are scheduled to appear in court on the charges Dec. 21