Local News

Cary Man In Trouble For Leaving Daughter Unattended In Hot Car

Posted June 20, 2002

— A man in Cary is charged with child neglect after a quick dash into the drug store.

Jeffrey Blanton was inside Eckerd Drugs in Cary for 7 minutes, but police said he left his 9-month-old child in a hot car. Blanton was later charged with child neglect.

Heather Kirk, a store customer, called police to let them know that the car was turned off and the windows were rolled up, with temperatures reaching as high as 96 degrees.

"She had sweat profusely running down her face and it was just absolutely horrible," she said.

Before police arrived, Kirk confronted Blanton.

"He became very combative. He accused myself and my mother, who was there at the time, of stealing his baby," she said.

"It is illegal for a parent or caregiver or someone watching over a small child to leave them unattended in the vehicle, especially in extreme weather conditions," said Lt. Barry Nichalson of the Cary Police Department. "It does not take long for a young child to be extremely stressed to the point of death."

Parents said they know how dangerous it can be to leave their child in an unattended car.

"It has crossed my mind, leave the car running, lock the door, run inside, I can see him from inside, but all it takes is two seconds for someone to steal a child or steal a car," parent Maryellen Kist said. "Children pretty much take on the temperatures of their environment. It would take no time for him to get overheated, even at 2 years old."

To illustrate how hot it can get in a car, WRAL conducted a test. A thermometer was placed in a car. At one point during the day, the temperature was 80 degrees. Thirty minutes later, the temperature rose to 110 degrees.

Blanton was unavailable for an interview with WRAL, but his wife said the incident was a mistake. She said this type of situation has never happened before and that it would never happen again.

With the hot weather in recent weeks, police are urging people who see a child locked in a hot car to seek out the driver or owner of the store to let them know. If they cannot get any help, people are urged to call 911.

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