A Bellingham mother was issued a citation for third-degree criminal mistreatment after she allegedly left her toddler unattended in a vehicle in the cold.
Bellingham Police identified the woman as Anne Lindsay Kenoyer, 36. The charge is a misdemeanor.
Around 7:30 p.m. Monday, a witness called 911 to report a toddler inside an unattended car in the parking lot of an apartment complex in the 4000 block of Northwest Avenue, according to police Lt. Don Almer.
The witness told police the 14-month-old was crying, alone, the vehicle was locked and the witness was concerned for the child’s safety – temperatures that evening were around 33 degrees. The car wasn’t running.
When officers arrived, Kenoyer had already returned to vehicle and was with the toddler. Emergency medical personnel examined the toddler and found no medical issues, Almer said.
Other witnesses told police the 14-month-old was unattended for at least 12 minutes – but it remains unclear how long the toddler was unattended prior to witnesses hearing the cry.
Officers who spoke with Kenoyer and witnesses determined that because the toddler was left in the vehicle and exposed to the elements, it created an imminent and substantial risk of bodily harm, Almer said.
Kenoyer was cited and released at the scene.
Almer said leaving children unattended in a vehicle during winter is cause for concern because of the potential risk of hypothermia, or other medical issues – infants and young children develop hypothermia more easily than older kids or adults.
▪ Do not leave children unattended in a vehicle.
▪ Dress children for the weather, as well as the temperature of the vehicle. “If you have the heater on full blast and it’s really hot inside, don’t keep junior bundled up in three snow jackets,” said Bellingham Police Lt. Don Almer.
▪ If the vehicle is left running, carbon monoxide poisoning can occur, and children are more susceptible to this.
▪ Unattended children have the risk of becoming entangled in child seat straps, have choking hazards, and no one can help them when they’re all by themselves.