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Spanish Fork mom charged for leaving kids in frigid van

Published January 16, 2013 7:42 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A Spanish Fork mom faces criminal charges after leaving her sons in the van in frigid temperatures while she went shopping.

A man walked through the Provo Towne Center parking lot about 3:25 p.m. Monday, when he noticed three children in a van — but didn't think much of it, said Provo Police Lt. Mathew Siufanua. But when he came out of the mall at 4:30 p.m., and the children were still unattended, he called the police.

Officers found three boys — ages 8, 6 and 2 — inside, and while the older boys were bundled up and said they felt alright, the toddler was "cold, crying and clearly uncomfortable," Siufanua said. The incident report did not describe whether the 2-year-old was bundled up as well, he added.

Police moved the toddler into one of their patrol cars to warm him up and paged the 35-year-old mother over the mall intercom. Siufanua wasn't sure if the mom heard the page, but she came out of the mall and got in touch with the police about 5:20 p.m.

After interviewing the mom, police decided to charge her for leaving a child unattended in a vehicle. The state legislature passed a law in 2011 that makes it a class C misdemeanor to negligently leave a child unattended in a vehicle during conditions that pose a risk of hyperthermia or dehydration.

That kind of charge normally comes up in summer, but it's important for people to remember that frigid or inclement weather is also dangerous for the very young and very old, Siufanua said.

"Cars get very cold very quickly. [Children are] protected from the wind, but not the cold as much. You've gotta be really careful," he said.

mmcfall@sltrib.comTwitter: @mikeypanda