Crime & Courts

SC woman who police say left her child in car on 99 degree day out of jail

Richland County Coroner Gary Watts stresses not leaving children in vehicles

Richland County Coroner Gary Watts warns public not leaving children in vehicles.
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Richland County Coroner Gary Watts warns public not leaving children in vehicles.

A Florence County mother is out of jail after police charged her with child neglect for leaving her infant in a car on a hot day, police said.

Tuesday, a Florence County sheriff’s deputy smashed the window of Jennifer Wise’s car after a call came in reporting a baby girl was in a car alone with no air conditioner, WPDE reported. The heat index was 102 degrees that day. Police said Wise was inside Walmart and had left her child in the car, according to WMBF. Deputies told WBTW the baby was locked in the car “for at least 10 minutes.”

Magistrate Dominic Owens gave Wise a $15,000 bond, which she posted, court records show. The records also indicate that the South Carolina Department of Social Services is involved and that Wise must adhere to rules it put into place in order to stay out of jail.

Owens denied Wise a public defender, saying she’ll have to acquire her own legal counsel, WSAV reported. Being denied a public defender is usually done when a defendant has sufficient income to afford a personal lawyer.

The baby isn’t expected to have any harmful effects from the heat.

Child neglect is a felony punishable by 10 years in prison and a fine that can be set at any amount by a judge.

Seventeen children have already died from being left in hot cars in the United States this year, according to the National Safety Council.

“On average, 38 children under the age of 15 die each year from heatstroke after being left in a vehicle. Nearly every state has experienced at least one death since 1998, and in 2018, a record number of 52 children died after being left in a hot vehicle,” the National Safety Council said.

David Travis Bland won the South Carolina Press Association’s 2017 Judson Chapman Award for community journalism. As The State’s crime, police and public safety reporter, he strives to inform communities about crimes that affect them and give deeper insight into victims, the accused and law enforcement. He studied history with a focus on the American South at the University of South Carolina.
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