Florida Woman Arrested After Leaving Child in Hot Car in Jail Parking Lot
From visiting a prisoner to being a prisoner in twenty minutes flat.
A mother in Orlando, Florida has been arrested after leaving her three-year-old daughter in a locked car on a scorching hot day while visiting a prisoner at the Orange County Jail, the Orlando Sentinel reports. Florida Man, meet Florida Woman.
The Orange County Sheriff's Office told reporters 21-year-old Rachael Etienne left the little girl roasting in the jail parking lot for about twenty minutes on Monday before a staff member noticed her and raised the alarm. Nearby officers ran to the rescue and pulled her out of the hot car just in time—outside temperatures were in the low 90s with a heat index of 110 degrees, and she was reportedly "drenched in sweat" when they found her. Thankfully, she was otherwise uninjured.
Deputies arrested Etienne in the jail's visitation room and charged her with child neglect, and her daughter was placed with a family member by the Department of Children and Family Services. She initially told officers she left a teenage friend with the girl to look after her but later confessed to lying once she was informed the parking lot had surveillance cameras, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Every year, between thirty and fifty children die after being left in hot cars—unintentionally or otherwise—by their parents or caretakers. It's a problem that automakers are only just starting to address with passive reminders to check the rear seat every time you exit. Smaller inventors have come up with other creative solutions, and Congress has repeatedly proposed making some sort of backseat sensor or alert mandatory in new cars.
Unfortunately, this doesn't seem like a case that any amount of technology or legislation could prevent. FOX 35 spoke with Etienne's neighbor, who said the woman had previously brushed off their warnings about leaving her daughter in a hot car unattended.
"We told her about that, you can't leave them for no length of time in a car. We actually spoke to her about this before. She was like, 'I just ran in the house to get clothes!' but we were outside. It was a good twenty minutes, at least," Michelle Brown said.