THAT CHILD COULD?VE DIED
By JANE GARDNER
JESS McMAHON is so horrified at seeing young children left in hot cars every day at her shopping centre that she has started reporting car rego numbers to police.
Jess, who works at the Eastpoint Shopping Village in Goonellabah, says children and even babies are left unattended for up to 20 minutes.
Police yesterday warned that babies were at risk of death in a hot car within a few minutes.
They also warned that it was illegal to leave children unattended in a car.
Jess said many of the offenders left the doors wide open, but sometimes the doors were kept locked with the windows rolled up.
"We noticed it happening as soon as we opened about four months ago," she said.
"Two weeks ago I started keeping a list of number plates."
She has since handed the twopage list to the police.
The worst incident was about a month ago, on a searing hot day, when Jess heard a baby's cries coming from a parked car in front of the bakery.
She found a baby in a capsule and a toddler trapped inside the locked car, with the windows up and the engine off.
"The little boy was screaming out his mother's name and the baby was crying, so I went into the supermarket and asked who owned the blue car in the parking lot," she said. "The mum was in line and looked at me like nothing was wrong.
"I thought 'what's wrong with people, that child could've died'."
Richmond Area Local Command Crime Prevention Officer Michael Hogan says parents must be aware that leaving their child in the car for even a few minutes can kill.
"Even if you drop into the shop for five minutes, catastrophic things can happen," Senior Constable Hogan said.
"I've had to remove several children from cars in the past, and cases will be dealt with to the full extent of the law."
Sen Const Hogan said offenders would be reported to the Department of Community Services and the matter would be investigated as an issue of child abuse.
He urged people who see children left in a locked vehicle to contact police immediately.
"A delay of a minute or two can cause death."
Kym Marks, of Casino, who has three young grandchildren, was shocked some parents would leave their kids unattended in the car for any amount of time.
"It doesn't take long for something to happen to little babies in this heat because it gets too hot, too quickly," she said.