A mother has been charged for allegedly leaving her 6-month-old baby in a hot car while she went into a store.
According to the Craven County Sheriff's Office, Kayla Rae Perez De Jesus, of Washington, left her 6-month-old son in the rear passenger seat of her vehicle with the two back windows up.
The vehicle was parked at the Handy Mart at 2020 Highway 17 North in Craven County just before 5 p.m. Saturday, when it was 89 degrees outside, investigators said.
An off-duty Craven County deputy saw the baby locked in his car seat sweating and crying, the Sheriff's Office said. Perez De Jesus brought her two other children into the store.
Perez De Jesus was arrested in Beaufort County and was charged with misdemeanor child abuse. She was not charged with a felony because the circumstances didn't meet the criteria for that charge, the Sheriff's Office explained.
Perez De Jesus was given a $1,000 bond and was released.
NewsChannel 12 talked with the father of Perez De Jesus' children Tuesday morning. He said Perez De Jesus just had to use the restroom at the Handy Mart, and she left the car running with the air conditioning on.
The Craven County Sheriff's Office said the Beaufort County Department of Social Services is now investigating Perez De Jesus. But DSS would not comment on whether the suspect has a history of child welfare issues.
The Sheriff's Office said it takes only 10 minutes for the inside of a car to heat up by 20 degrees, and it continues to heat up quickly even if the windows are cracked. A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult's body.