EXCLUSIVE ON 6: Man Who Found 2-Week-Old Left In Car Speaks To WJBF
Photo of Lance Bell, who found a 2-week-old baby in an SUV in the parking lot of Augusta's Virginia College Thursday morning
An SUV that was parked Thursday morning at Virginia College is now empty, but hours earlier it was filled with the crying of a 2-week-old baby. The crying was so loud it triggered a response from a man who was walking nearby.
"I walked around the SUV, I noticed the windows were cracked and I heard it coming from the SUV. So, I wrote the tag down and went into Virginia College and told the security guard that I heard the baby crying and she took it from there," said Lance Bell, who found the baby.
It turns out, the baby, whose name is Christopher Howard, was in the back of the vehicle in a carrier and covered by a blanket.
The mother, 20-year-old Alicia Manigault, has now been charged with Cruelty to Children 2nd Degree.
As the temperatures continue to rise, so are concerns about drivers leaving infants and children in hot cars, and that concern has sparked Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to start a statewide campaign called "Look Again". That campaign has also ignited a fire of warnings from doctors about the dangers of leaving children for even a few minutes.
"They have a smaller mass for the amount of surface area, so they can get up to the temperature of the inside of a car a lot faster than maybe an adult can. They don't have the skin area that we have to be able to release that heat, or the ability to get out and move around and fan themselves," said Dr. Mark Newton, who is Chief of Emergency Medicine at Doctors Hospital.
According to the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, leaving a child in the car alone cannot only increase the possibility of physical problems, it also increases the chances of legal problems, too.
"In a situation like that, she's probably going to be charged with a misdemeanor Depravation of a Minor. That holds a certain monetary fee, or fine, that's set forth by the judge, state court, as well as probation. It could go up to a jail term, but that's up to the judge," said Sergeant Shane McDaniel, of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.
Depending on the child's condition, it could also lead to more serious charges, like Murder.
"I don't like working out in the heat and I'm in my forties, so I know it was not good for a two-week-old baby," Bell said..
Through this new campaign across Georgia, sheriff's departments are encouraging people to look and look again to save a life.
Law enforcement is also encouraging more people to be on the lookout for children left in cars and to call deputies immediately. These precautions also apply to pets left in hot vehicles.