A Florida woman has been charged with various criminal counts after she allegedly left her two children in a hot car with a bag of methamphetamine on the floor while she went shopping.
As KCPQ-TV (Tacoma) reports, Nicole Buffington, 24, is behind bars today after the Tuesday incident in Hudson, a coastal community about 45 miles north of Tampa. Police were called to the discount store Dollar General after receiving reports of two small children left in a hot car alone. When police arrived, they got the kids to safety and then located their mother, allegedly Buffington, and brought her outside.
Authorities say that the kids had been in the car for approximately 20 minutes, between about 12:06 p.m. and 12:29 p.m. At the time, according to AccuWeather, the temperature in nearby Tampa was as high as 81 degrees. It is not clear, as of this writing, if the windows were open any amount to allow for ventilation, or whether or not the air conditioner was on.
In addition to the two children, identified as a 7-year-old boy and a 1-year-old girl, having allegedly been left alone in the hot car for that period of time, police made another discovery. Authorities say that there was a plastic bag on the driver’s seat, which contained a crystalline substance that tested positive for methamphetamine.
Deputies said that either of the children could have easily accessed the bag of meth, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Buffington, of Port Richey, was arrested on charges of child neglect with minor or no injury and possession of methamphetamine. She was taken to jail without incident. It remains unclear, as of this writing, what happened to the children.
Although most of the country is comfortably into the fall season and out of the time of year when hot car death remains a possibility, the same is not true in places with a warm climate, such as central Florida.
According to Live Science, children – as well as adults and animals – are at risk of heat stroke in as little as an hour inside a parked car, even on a comparatively mild day like a day with temperatures in the low 80s. On average, about 37 kids die from being left in hot cars each year in the U.S.
Meanwhile, methamphetamine need not be smoked – the traditional way users get their high from the drug – in order to be dangerous. Back in June, as the New York Post reported at the time, an 8-year-old boy died after eating his father’s methamphetamine, thinking it was breakfast cereal.