A woman walking through a grocery store parking lot on a sweltering evening last weekend spotted an infant secured in his car seat in a minivan with the windows up, police said.
The passerby told the Kroger’s manager, who grabbed cold water and towels and ran to the car with the woman on Saturday in Knoxville, Tennessee, police said. They were able to get into the unlocked van and help the child.
Police say the crying 9-month-old sat strapped in his car seat during 90-degree temperatures with a sweaty, red face. The manager and the woman gave him water and poured some on him to cool him down, authorities said.
About 15 minutes later, a woman who’d been shopping at Kroger returned to the car. She told police she didn’t remember having the child with her, authorities said.
The woman, identified as Claire Huenefeld, is a foster parent who had temporary custody of the child. The infant was taken to Children’s Hospital where he was still being examined as of Saturday evening.
Police said he’ll be turned over to the state when he’s released. Huenefeld, 38, was arrested on a charge of child endangerment.
Similar incidents have been fatal. A North Texas mother was recently sentenced to two 20-year terms after two toddlers died in a hot car last May, the Associated Press reported. In this case, police say the woman locked them in the car to teach them a lesson because her daughter left the car without permission.
Last year, a South Daytona, Florida mother was arrested after police found her young son in a car with temperatures approaching 110 degrees, police said. Authorities say the woman then complained that the police cruiser was too hot, asking the officer to turn up the air conditioning.
An examination of reported child hot car deaths in the U.S. done by a professor at San Jose State University found that 42 children suffered vehicular heatstroke deaths last year, with the most deaths happening in July.
CNN reported in August that an average of 37 children die each year in hot cars, according to safety organization Kids and Cars.