COLUMBIANA - A possibly dangerous situation was averted Friday afternoon when a teenage girl left her sleeping 7-year-old brother in a car with the windows rolled up while she shopped in a nearby store.
Police Chief Tim Gladis said a KLG employee called at 3:10 p.m. to report seeing the youth in the car parked in the plaza where the Family Dollar store is located. Police found the boy inside, with the windows completely up and the engine turned off.
The youth appeared to be sleeping, and Gladis said they knocked on the window, waking the boy, who opened the doors. The boy explained he and his 18-year-old sister were running around when he must have fallen asleep and she decided to stop at the plaza.
The boy was placed in Gladis' air-conditioned cruiser and given some water to cool him down while being questioned. After about 10 minutes, his sister exited the Family Dollar and saw police talking with her brother.
The boy appeared to be fine, although he had been sweating. Gladis said he knows of situations where younger children have died within 30-40 minutes of being left in a vehicle on a hot day with the windows rolled up and no air conditioning.
"It was 88 degrees at the time, with the sun beating down and the windows up. It doesn't take long to get dangerously hot," he said.
Gladis believes the girl did not fully grasp the seriousness of the situation. "After I explained it to her she broke down and began crying. I think it was just a maturity issue where she didn't realize the consequences of what she had done," he said.
Their mother was contacted and the boy was released to her custody. Gladis said they are also required by law to file a report with Children Services, and he will send a copy to the Columbiana County Prosecutor's Office, "but I think it was just a bad decision on the part of the sister."