Police on Friday arrested a 33-year-old New Canaan woman by warrant after determining that she had endangered her own infant’s health by leaving the baby in a car for about 48 minutes on a weekday afternoon last month.
At about 4:03 p.m. on July 18—a Tuesday—the New Canaan Police Department received a 9-1-1 call from the woman herself, saying she returned to her SUV on Elm Street to find the 11-week-old child “screaming crying,” according to police.
The call was time-stamped 4:06 p.m. on the New Canaan Police Department’s phone system, according to an arrest warrant application from Officer Matthew Blank.
Following an investigation that included video surveillance footage of the car—it was parked at 81 Elm St., in front of Le Pan Quotidien—as well as copies of receipts and the woman’s own testimony, police charged her with risk of injury to a child, a felony offense.
Police arriving at the scene—Blank as well as Lt. Carol Ogrinc and Sgt. Kevin Casey, joined by an EMT from the New Canaan Volunteer Ambulance Corps—found the baby’s face to be red and hair matted down with sweat, the arrest warrant application said.
It was about 85 degrees outside at that time of day, according to weather data cited by Blank, and with humidity would have felt like about 90 degrees, the officer said in the application.
The car had been completely closed with no windows open and it wasn’t running, so no air conditioning was circulating inside while the baby was alone inside it, in a rear-facing baby seat behind the driver’s seat, Blank said.
The woman appeared to be calm in making the 9-1-1 call as well as in talking to police at the scene, a demeanor that a social worker from Norwalk Hospital later attributed to the mom being in shock at what was happening, according to the application.
The woman had told police initially that she’d only been away from her baby for about 10 minutes, Blank said. However, a receipt from a shoe store up the street showed a time stamp of 3:26 p.m.—the woman purchased two pairs of shoes there—and the head employee of that shop recalled that the baby’s mom was inside for 10 to 15 minutes, though that employee wasn’t sure, the application said.
Police also obtained video surveillance footage from a jewelry store opposite Le Pan that showed a vehicle matching the woman’s parking on Elm Street at 3:18 p.m., according to the arrest warrant application. (The mom later purchased a large mint lemonade from Le Pan, and the receipt had a timestamp of 3:58 p.m.)
About two hours after the incident, Bank contacted state officials to make a report of suspected child neglect, the application said.
Norwalk Hospital officials cleared the baby medically that same evening, and contacted Ogrinc with that information, the application said.
According to a social worker there, the woman was in shock because she was “very controlled” in her demeanor, it said.
The family has a nanny and the mom typically only watches the older kids, according to the social worker as cited by Blank. The woman told the social worker “that she had errands to run and decided to take the juvenile along.”
“She stated that the juvenile was asleep and quiet which caused [the mother] to forget [the baby] was in the vehicle. [The social worker] informed [the parents] that [he or she] would be contacted [the state Department of Children and Families] and the juvenile’s father … stated ‘think about it’ multiple times.”
The woman’s husband had gotten into a car accident earlier in the day and was home at the time of the incident, according to the application.
Police released the woman on $20,000 bond and scheduled her to appear Aug. 22 in state Superior Court in Norwalk.