A mother has been charged with child neglect after she left her 10-year-old son inside a car with the windows rolled up on a 90-degree day.
Pulinaria Matuz, 30, was hit with the charge Friday afternoon when her son and her dog were spotted by a passerby inside a parked car at Walmart.
“I’m so thankful a witness was there to call this in,” said McMinnville Police officer Andy Aguilar. “The windows were up and the car wasn’t running. There was no excuse for it. This could have turned out much worse.”
Officer Aguilar said the mother claimed to have gotten caught up in traffic inside the store and wasn’t able to leave as soon as she expected. The boy and the dog were left in the vehicle for at least 10 minutes.
“The boy was sweating profusely,” said Aguilar. “I was sweating bullets and I was standing outside the car.”
Aguilar called 911 dispatch and was informed the outside temperature was 91 degrees at the time of the incident at 4 p.m. Friday. He said the boy was old enough to be able to get out of the vehicle on his own, but he remained inside at the time of his arrival.
“He could have very easily gotten disoriented and not known what to do,” said Aguilar. “He was still in the car when I arrived.”
Matuz, a Smithville resident, was given a citation in lieu of arrest for child neglect. DCS was notified.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says to never leave a child alone in a parked car, even if the windows are rolled down.
Locally, two toddlers died in McMinnville in the mid-1990s when they were left inside a car while their mother was visiting friends inside a local hotel room. The mother reportedly fell asleep while the children were in their car seats.