Austin police say a 24-year-old mother left her two small children in a car unattended, while she went grocery shopping on a day when it hit 94 degrees outside.
Viviana Campos-Machuca was arrested Tuesday and booked into the Travis County Jail on a charge of child endangerment.
It’s the second time since March that Campos-Machuca has been accused by police of leaving the two children alone in the car, according to court papers made public Friday.
Witnesses called police after spotting the two children — a 6-year-old and a 1-year-old — in the car, which was left idling in the parking lot at the Fiesta supermarket in East Austin’s Cherrywood neighborhood, the arrest affidavit says.
The children may have been left in the car alone for more than half an hour, the affidavit said. One witness told an Austin Fire Department lieutenant who responded that he spotted the children when he went in the store and they were still there unattended when he returned to his car 20 to 30 minutes later.
Another witness said that she called authorities and stayed with the car for about 15 minutes, while waiting for police.
Police and fire personnel were on the scene, tending to the children for about 10 minutes before Campos-Machuca exited the store and returned to the car, according to the court papers.
The two small children were hot even though Campos-Machuca left the air conditioning running, the affidavit said.
That’s not uncommon in Central Texas, where summer heat has reached dangerous levels this year.
The National Weather Service warns that the interior of a vehicle can warm up rapidly under the sun. For instance, 80-degree heat outside can raise temperatures to 99 degrees inside a car within just 10 minutes — and 109 degrees within 20 minutes — if the air conditioner isn’t running, said Mark Lenz, a meteorologist with the weather service.