Authorities in Hiram, Georgia, saved three young children left in a hot car on Saturday, apparently while their mother shopped at an area discount store.
FOX 5 reports that Loletha Stallworth, 39, of Powder Springs, was arrested after police were called to an incident at the Five Below store in Paulding County. When police arrived, they noticed three children sitting in a hot car alone.
According to Paulding County Officer Stephen Johnston, all three children, twin boys ages 7 and their younger 4-year-old brother, were showing signs of distress. Although it was 88 degrees outside, the temperature reached 101.3 degrees inside the car.
As the police officers removed the children from the car and gave them bottled water, their mother emerged from the store. She claimed she only left the children alone “for a few minutes” while she shopped for a birthday present for a friend.
Regardless, police arrested Stallworth. According to Paulding County Sheriff’s Office records, she’s charged with three counts of cruelty to children and three counts of children’s seat belt safety violations. She remains in jail, held over for prosecution. The children were released to their father.
The incident marks the second known incident in August, in the state of Georgia, where children were negligently left in a hot car. Ironically, another set of twins were left in a car earlier this month in Georgia, but with a tragic outcome. The Inquisitr reports that 24-year-old Asa North left his twin 2-year-old girls in his SUV for several hours while temperatures reached the high 90s.
After discovering his girls in the car, which was parked in front of the family home, North attempted to revive them by placing them in a kiddie pool. Sadly, the twins didn’t survive. They were rushed to a local emergency room but died shortly after. North remains in jail with no bond. He faces two felony counts of involuntary manslaughter.
In 2014, another Georgia resident, Justin Ross Harris, left his 22-month-old son, Cooper Harris, strapped in a car seat in the back seat of his car while he went to work for eight hours at the Home Depot corporate headquarters in Marietta.
The toddler passed away from hyperthermia, but his father claimed it was an accident. CNN reports that Harris was charged with one count of felony malice murder, two felony counts of murder, and one felony count of cruelty to children in the first degree.
The Department of Meteorology & Climate Science at San Jose State University states that there has been a total of 27 children car deaths via heat stroke in 2016. The death rate has already surpassed the total child car deaths via heat stroke for the entire year of 2015. In 2015, 24 children died of heatstroke after being left in cars.
In a study conducted from 1995 to 2015 on cars and kids’ heatstroke deaths, 54 percent of the children were “forgotten” on accident by caregivers and parents. Unattended children playing in cars accounted for 29 percent of the deaths, while 17 percent of the deaths were found to be intentional by adults caregivers and/or parents.
Texas currently has the most child car deaths in 2016, with a total of six children dying from heat stroke. Three children in Georgia and another three children in Louisiana died this year from vehicular heat stroke, followed by an additional three children in Florida.
According to climatologist Jan Null, when the temperatures are 90 degrees outside, it only takes 10 minutes of being inside a hot car to cause irreversible damage to a child, even death.
“When a core body temperature of 107 degrees or greater is reached, then cells are damaged and internal organs begin to shut down. This cascade of events can rapidly lead to death.”
Parents and caregivers are strongly urged to slow down during busy times, especially during a schedule change, and remember their children at all times while in their care.
[Image via Paulding County Sheriff’s Office]