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Rock Island County warns parents not to leave children in cars

Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 10:27 PM CDT
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SILVIS, Illinois (KWQC) - As temperatures continue to rise, officials are reminding everyone: never leave children or pets alone in a hot car.

The Rock Island County State’s Attorney Dora Villarreal has already seen one of these cases. Villarreal says she charged a mother who left a 5-year-old and a 12-day-old baby in her car in the parking lot of the Silvis Walmart for 30 minutes on Thursday.

After a Good Samaritan broke the window and removed the children, Silvis Fire took a reading of the inside temperature of the car: it was 161 degrees.

“So we’re very, very thankful that the children are okay,” said Villarreal. “From that incident, but it’s certainly not one that we want to see occur again.”

Villareal says the county usually only sees one or two of these cases a year, but it’s a national issue. According to San Jose State University, the average number of children that die each year after being left in a vehicle is 38. Two deaths have been reported in 2022 so far.

“It is just horrifying,” said Villarreal. “And we’re very glad that this did not result in a death as it very easily could have.”

If you find yourself in a similar situation to the Good Samaritan in Silvis, there are some steps you can take before breaking a window.

“Obviously, the first thing that should be done is to alert the authorities. And then if you are in some type of location, such as a store, you know, Walmart, to you know, as quickly as you can go and let them know, perhaps a call can be made across the store,” said Villarreal. “When it comes to, you know, no one is helping and you see that people are actually in peril, then yes, we would not be charging somebody who broke that window to save these children.”

Villarreal says that the exact charges can vary in these situations. There are several different child endangerment rules that apply, as well as reckless conduct, depending on if children or animals are injured. She also wants to remind everyone that in the temperatures we’ve been seeing, and will continue to see, cracking a window or parking in shade is not enough for anyone left in the car to be safe.

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