Two women, one in Bartlett and another at Southland Mall, were arrested Thursday in separate incidents of children left unattended in cars. Bartlett police charged 30-year-old Wafaa Khartoum of 5295 Steuben in Raleigh with reckless endangerment of a child. Memphis police charged 27-year-old Tiffany Purnell of 3417 Spottswood in East Memphis with child abuse and neglect.
Authorities warn that this time of year, children can die when left alone in vehicles.
An 8-month-old girl died in August 2004 in Bartlett and a 2-year-old Memphis boy died that May.
Four children forgotten in day care vans in Memphis died from 1997 to 2003 -- two of them in separate incidents on the same day in July 1999.
And so far this year, 17 children nationwide have died in hot vehicles, according to a San Francisco State University Web site, ggweather.com/heat/.
Purnell told officers she left her child in the car because the 2-year-old girl was asleep and she didn't want to wake her by taking her into the store.
At first, according to a police report, Purnell said she left the baby with her older sister. When police questioned the story, the mother then admitted she intentionally left her child in the car.
According to the police report, several mall patrons saw the toddler in the back of a car with the windows closed and doors locked at about 7 p.m. The baby was seen crying and sweating profusely, the report said.
The temperature was 88 degrees at 7 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.
Witnesses flagged down the mall police and the officer called the Fire Department. Twenty minutes later Purnell, came out of the mall, unlocked the car and asked officers what was wrong, the affidavit said.
The child was checked out by paramedics, who said the child was all right.
When Purnell was arrested, police also found a small bag of marijuana in her purse and charged her with possession of a controlled substance.
The Tennessee Department of Children's Services took the baby and transferred custody to an aunt.
Authorities still were trying to determine why Khartoum left the child in the car Thursday evening parked at the Walgreens at Bartlett Boulevard and Stage.
A passerby noticed the 3-year-old girl in the car and watched about 45 minutes before calling police at 6:45 p.m. The temperature at 6 p.m. was 89. The girl was removed from the car and checked by Bartlett paramedics, who said she was fine.
The mother didn't appear for another hour.
Bartlett police Lt. Rory Mack said the mother provided several reasons for her disappearance, but authorities were still trying to determine why the child was left unattended.
Initially, the woman told police she was in Walgreens, but that soon was discredited, Mack said. She also told police she had been in a nearby beauty shop, and that she was with her boyfriend.