No South Carolina law against keeping kids inside hot cars

CSRA News

An Aiken County father faces charges after leaving his children inside of a car on a hot day.  

None of the children left inside the car on that hot day were harmed. But we looked into the broader conversation. Should children be left inside at all?

Aiken Department of Public Safety’s Lt. Jake Mahoney told us no. 

“89, 90 degrees may not be that hot to an adult standing outside, but when you’re inside a vehicle, those vehicle temperatures can climb extremely rapidly.”

Shopping needs to be done.  But one father’s trip to Walmart landed him in jail. 

“There were in fact five children left in the vehicle.  Windows had been cracked, but it was extremely hot inside that vehicle for those children.”

An incident report states when the Public Safety Officer arrived at the Richland Avenue Walmart in Aiken, he found five kids, all younger than 10, sweating inside the car.   He said it was 89 degrees outside and some of the kids were wearing long sleeve shirts and jeans. When asked if they were hot all responded “yes.”  

“When the children are telling you yes, I’m hot, that definitely plays into the charging decisions,” Lt. Mahoney said. 

After law enforcement made sure the children were safe, Andre Walker, of Graniteville, turned himself in the next morning.  ADPS charged him with five counts of unlawful conduct towards a child.  We spoke with South Carolina State Representative Bart Blackwell about the matter and he told us no law exists or was sponsored this session about leaving kids in cars. 

“Leaving it up to the discretion of the officer is probably a good thing.  If you say that you can’t, under any circumstances, leave your child unattended in a vehicle, that prevents a parent from making a quick 30 second to one minute stop at the post office or some place like that,” Rep. Blackwell stated.

Officers noted in the report that Walker took seven minutes inside the store while his kids waited in a handicap space outside.  While officers use their discretion, Rep. Blackwell added parents still need to think wisely. 

He said, “As warmer weather is upon us now and it gets even hotter in the summer, parents need to really pay attention to what they’re doing and think about that quick stop to the post office or the grocery store or convenience store may not be a quick stop.”

Here are a few tips if you do have to shop with children.  One obvious option is Walmart Pickup.  That is where the employees bring the items to your vehicle.  Many places have drive thru options as well.

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