Georgetown police have arrested a woman they said left her two-year-old grandson in a hot car last week.
Police responded to the parking lot outside Ross Dress for Less where they found the child inside a van in an obvious state of distress. Police said 54-year-old Leia Payne parked her van, leaving one window open, turned off the engine and left her grandson inside.
“We had a report of, it looked like an about 2-year-old child left in a Dodge van unattended,” said Captain Roland Waits with the Georgetown Police Department.
An officer, who responded to the parking lot, removed the child from the unlocked car.
“So the child was conscious, but he was very hot and sweaty. He was definitely red and flushed, he was crying, of course he was very upset and you could tell he was in some type of distress at the time,” Waits said.
The 2-year-old was transported to a Round Rock hospital to be treated for heat exhaustion.
“A short time later the grandmother came out and said, ‘Oh my gosh, what happened?’” said Waits.
Payne told police she didn't mean to leave the boy in the car alone, but had walked inside Ross to find her other two grandchildren.
“Her account was she was only in there for a couple minutes, but had a lot on her mind. In reviewing the surveillance video, she was actually in there for over 24 minutes,” Waits said.
It was about 90 degrees at 5 p.m. on Friday. A firefighter on scene measured the van's interior temperature at 130 degrees.
Police cannot stress enough how important it is not to leave a child or pet in a car unattended.
“They don't have the coping mechanisms to be able to deal with that. They can't get out of the child seat, they can't turn on that car, they can't turn on the air conditioning and it takes a very short amount of time to get the body into a state of emergency,” said Waits.
Had witnesses not called for help, officers said there could have been a devastating outcome. That's why they encourage bystanders to either call 911 or do whatever is necessary to save a life.
“It's their choice. We would prefer, naturally, to have them call the police, but, if it looks like it's a dire emergency, if you need to take action then I would say take action,” Waits said.
Payne was charged with abandoning a child with intent to return, a state jail felony.
She was released on bond Saturday.