A North Carolina man is accused of locking his 98-year-old mother inside a hot car — while he spent time in a casino. Authorities said Dwight Ridgeway McGinnis Jr., age 67, left his disabled mother inside the vehicle for nearly five hours. Although the window was partially open, temperatures outside the car soared above 80 degrees.
At 6:30 pm on Monday, an unidentified witness contacted Ann Arundel County authorities as the elderly woman was clearly in distress. When officers arrived on scene, they found the woman confused and incoherent.
As she did not appear to be in immediate danger, EMS workers moved the woman to a cooler location and provided her with water. She eventually explained that her son entered the Maryland Live! Casino at approximately 1:30 pm and had not returned.
Authorities said they searched the casino for nearly an hour. However, they could not locate the woman’s son. At approximately 7:25 pm, McGinnis returned to his vehicle. He was immediately placed under arrest for leaving his elderly mother in the hot car.
As reported by Eye On Annapolis, the woman was not physically injured in the incident. Authorities believe she was disoriented because she did not have any access to food or water. Although an empty soda can was located inside the vehicle, it is unclear whether it was emptied before or after the man locked his mother inside the hot car.
On Monday, regional temperatures reached the mid 80s. As explained by the Department of Geosciences, San Francisco State University, the temperature inside McGinnis’ vehicle could have reached 125 degrees within an hour.
As reported by NBC News, authorities indicated that the elderly woman had no means to contact her son or leave the vehicle without assistance.
In addition to the neglect charge, McGinnis was also arrested on an outstanding warrant. According to county records, the warrant was issued when he failed to appear in court for a traffic violation.
Authorities have not disclosed whether McGinnis provided an explanation for his behavior. However, it is assumed that he is his elderly mother’s primary caregiver. The incident was reported to the local Department of Social Services for further investigation.
It is unclear whether McGinnis will face additional charges for locking his mother in the hot car. Thankfully the elderly woman did not suffer any permanent damage or injury.