HANOVER, Md. (WJZ)—It’s happened again. Just days after a 4-year-old girl was left alone in a car in the cold for more than eight hours, Anne Arundel County Police say another child was left all alone in a car in the cold.
Derek Valcourt has more on the discovery and who police say is to blame this time.
This time it’s the child’s grandfather who told police he left the child asleep in the car and lost track of time.
The allegations that 47-year-old Juan Carlos Diaz, of Columbia, left his 6-year-old grandson alone in a van as snow started falling Thursday afternoon appalls most people.
“I just think it’s abhorrent,” one person said.
“I don’t see how you can do that,” said another.
“Doesn’t make sense at all,” another person said.
A shopper entering Arundel Mills Mall first spotted the unattended child around 4:30 p.m. in the parking lot near Best Buy. When that shopper emerged from the mall an hour and a half later and saw the child still sitting there, he alerted police.
“The child was able to unlock the door, and the child was put into a police car, where he warmed himself up, and that’s when we started looking for the responsible adults that should have had custody of the child,” said Lt. T.J. Smith, Anne Arundel County Police.
The boy told them his grandfather left him in the car.
Police made an announcement about the child over the mall intercom.
Around 7:30 p.m., the child’s mother and grandfather arrived back at the van and told police that Diaz drove to the mall to pick up the child’s mother—who says she left her son with his grandfather while she did some shopping and had no idea that he was left unattended.
Diaz was arrested after telling police he didn’t realize hours had passed.
“That’s pretty crazy that someone would let their kid sit in a car that long,” one man said.
The boy was transported to the Baltimore Washington Medical Center and was found to be in good health and showed no signs of physical child abuse, but was cold and hungry.
Diaz isn’t alone. On New Year’s Eve, 24-year-old Alicia Brown was arrested after security at the nearby Maryland Live! Casino found her 4-year-old daughter had been left in a car alone for more than eight hours. Brown was charged with child abuse and neglect and has since been released on bail.
“They don’t deserve to have kids. They don’t need to have kids. Grandparents, parents, whatever the case may be, you never leave your kids unattended in the car,” said Brittany Ciccarelli.
Child Protective Services and the Criminal Investigation Division Child Abuse Unit were contacted. The child was released to his mother.
Both adults arrested this week face the possibility of up to five years in prison if convicted.
Police say this needs to serve as a warning. It is against the law in Maryland to leave children under the age of 8 alone in a car or even alone at home.
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