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Mechanicville woman accused of leaving 3 kids in car while shopping

Updated: Friday, July 11 2014, 09:06 PM EDT
MECHANICVILLE -- A woman was arrested Thursday after police said she left three children unattended in locked vehicle with the engine off.

City police said concerned shoppers and employees at the parking lot saw the children and called 911 on July 5. Officers said it took Ashley Degrasse, 24, a half-hour to return from shopping at Dollar General.

“We call it a senseless crime because it's senseless,” said Chief Joseph Waldron with the Mechanicville Police Department. “In their minds the people are thinking, the ones that are doing this, they're only going to be a minute and it ends up being 30 [minutes] before you know it and a lot of things go wrong in that period of time.”

Police said the children did not appear to suffer any injuries, but doctors said they could have suffered hyperthermia. The National Highway Traffic Administration estimates the inside of a car can be 50 degrees warmer than the outdoor temperature.

“This is the big problem with cars. The temperature can rise very quickly. Even on day like today, the temperature can go up extremely rapidly so a very hot temperature these changes to the brain can happen in a matter of minutes,” said Dr. John Pramenko.

Doctors say children can be more susceptible to the heat because they don’t sweat the same as adults. Mechanicville police said the children ranged in age from 1-year-old to 7-years-old with the youngest wrapped in a blanket.
“Once you get to a temperature over 104 [degrees] the body really starts losing ability to compensate,” said Dr. Pramenko.

Police said Degrasse disputed how long she left the children alone, but Chief Waldron said there is no time limit that children can be out of sight of their parents. Degrasse is facing three charges of endangering the welfare of a child. She is due back in court next month.

“When you leave the physical sight, the custody of your children, for one second, that's all it takes,” said Waldron. “Anyone that has kids knows it takes one second and everything can go wrong real fast.”
Mechanicville woman accused of leaving 3 kids in car while shopping


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