Shawnise Sherman, 22, is accused of leaving her young children in a hot car while shopping, according to The Times-Picayune. Sherman allegedly attacked the 911 caller who helped rescue her children.
The incident took place last Sunday in Kenner, a suburb of New Orleans, Louisiana. Police received a call reporting that two young children were locked in a hot vehicle with the windows rolled up.
Police officers responded and found an 11-month-old and a 3-year-old had been removed from the car by witnesses. The police department did not tell The Times-Picayune how the children were rescued from the vehicle.
After finding out that someone had called the police, Sherman allegedly approached the witnesses and “physically attacked the 911 caller,” according to police and The Times-Picayune.
Police Officer Kevin Ballard told The Times-Picayune that the children had been in the car for about an hour. The temperature outside was 91 degrees Fahrenheit, and it felt like 99 degrees Fahrenheit, according to WGNO ABC.
The children were treated on the scene by paramedics and released to a family member. Sherman was arrested and charged with child desertion and simple battery.
According to Time, over the past 10 years almost 750 children have died from being left in a hot car. According to a study published in the journal Temperature and reported by Time, a car that’s parked in direct sunlight can reach dangerous temperatures within an hour. A vehicle parked in a shady spot reaches dangerous temperatures within two hours.
Hot cars are dangerous to young children because they are vulnerable to heatstroke. According to the Mayo Clinic, untreated heatstroke can damage the brain, kidneys, and heart. Death can occur if the body reaches a temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter.
Testing done by Consumer Reports found similar results.
“Temperatures that might seem comfortable for adults can quickly become dangerous for children,” said Orly Avitzur, M.D. and medical director for Consumer Reports.
“Children should never be left unattended in a car for even a short period of time,” said Jennifer Stockburger, director of operations for Consumer Reports‘ Auto Test Center. “Even when it’s not that hot outside, our test results show how quickly temperatures inside the car escalate, regardless of whether your car is light or dark.”
Many states have a “good samaritan” law in place that protects passersby from liability if they rescue a child or pet from a hot car by smashing a window. In Sherman’s case, witnesses did the right thing by calling 911 and then rescuing the children.