Tori Castillo, a resident of Riverdale, Utah, was arrested after she allegedly locked her two young kids in the trunk of her car and went shopping. According to a KTLA report, Castillo, a 39-year-old mother of two, drove to the local Walmart with her children on Thursday, May 25, 2017; parked the car in the parking lot; and then allegedly locked her kids aged 2 and 5 inside the trunk of the car and walked into Walmart to complete her shopping trip. However, Tori’s alleged act caught the attention of a bystander who decided to call 911 — who then informed the local police department about the rather disturbing incident.
According to Lieutenant Casey Warren from the Riverdale Police Department, after they received the call from the good Samaritan, officers reached the parking lot within minutes and rescued the children. According to Lt. Warren, by the time responding officers reached there, the children had started making noises and were moving frantically inside the trunk in a bid to escape. The kids were reportedly desperately trying to get out of the trunk, and their repeated movements caused the vehicle to shake violently. A small crowd had gathered at the parking lot by then. With the help of several bystanders, the cops asked the 5-year-old kid inside the trunk not to panic and directed her to use the emergency latch inside the trunk to open it from the inside. The elder child was then able to successfully open the trunk much to everyone’s relief.
Tori Castillo, who was still inside Walmart the entire time, was arrested a few minutes later when she came back outside following her shopping trip. Tori was also interrogated by the officers in the parking lot. Following Tori’s arrest, Officers from the Riverdale Police Department called the Child and Family Services who then took both the children under their care. Currently, both the children are under the care of a responsible party. Following a lengthy interrogation, Tori was booked into Weber County Jail and an investigation has been launched. Tori is likely to face multiple child abuse charges. However, authorities are also likely to evaluate her mental health condition before she is tried and eventually convicted for her actions.
While several cases of parents and caretakers forgetting their kids inside hot cars, often leading to injuries and death, have been reported in the past, cases of parents who deliberately put their children at risk are less common. As of now, it is still not known whether Tori had deliberately forced her kids into the trunk of the car or if her actions were the result of some form of mental illness. Officers are still investigating all possible angles so that they can come to a believable conclusion.
Hot car deaths in the U.S. have been on the rise since the past few years. According to statistics from Jan Null, CCM, Department of Meteorology and Climate Science, San Jose State University, in 2017 alone there have been 11 deaths of children who were left inside cars. In 2016, 39 children died of the same cause. In fact, since the year 1998 — the year from which agencies started to collect data from heatstroke deaths of children left in hot cars — an astounding 709 children have died inside hot cars. On average, 37 kids in the U.S. die of heatstroke, many of them inside hot cars. In the most recent incident, two children from Texas, a 2-year-old and a 16-month-old, were found dead inside a car.
Both the kids were found locked inside the car. The children were identified as Juliet and Cavanaugh Ramirez. An investigation into the incident is still underway.
[Featured Image by Weber County Sheriff’s Office/AP Images]