Police: 5-year-old left in hot SUV for 40 minutes outside Walmart

Mother charged with child neglect in Palatka

Talisha Martin is accused of leaving her 5-year-old in her hot SUV.
Talisha Martin is accused of leaving her 5-year-old in her hot SUV.

PALATKA, Fla. – A 5-year-old boy was left unattended in a hot SUV for more than 40 minutes Sunday outside a Palatka Walmart store told Palatka police officers he was "scared because my mommy left me."

According to police, officers were called to the Walmart about 4 p.m. Sunday after a report that a child had been left in a vehicle. The store's loss prevention team showed the officers where the child had been left, and they found him in the back seat of a vehicle that had been left running, but it was blowing warm air.

The boy's mother, 27-year-old Talisha Martin of Interlachen, was charged with child neglect and was taken to the Putnam County Jail where her husband posted her $500 bond. 

"So when I went to go get my car I had sheriff’s deputies standing there and asked me to come with them. I asked where my son was and they said just come with me. So I got arrested for child neglect,” according to Martin's Facebook page. 

The child was taken into the store by one of the officers, and the other officer waited at the vehicle for the boy's mother to come out.

When Martin walked outside to her vehicle the officer spoke to her. He said that her speech was stuttered and slurred.

According to the officer, Martin did not realize her child was no longer in the vehicle until the officer asked her if something was missing.

“So I got in trouble and went to PCJ early this afternoon. I went to Walmart to run in and buy a pack of toilet paper a run-out. That was it. I I had my son with me. He wanted to stay in the car playing on the phone with the AC on and the windows up with the car locked,” according to Martin's Facebook page.  

The Department of Children and Families said the child was taken into protective custody.

News4Jax spoke with Martin who said none of what police say is true. 

"(Police) said that I was in there 40 minutes and that is a lie," Martin said. "Also something about it wasn’t even cold air coming out the vent, It was hot air, and that is not true. I just think it’s wrong that I’m being blasted out like that when I’m a mother and have been a mother for almost ten years.”

“I clearly won’t do it again. I mean, I don’t think I was in the wrong but it is," Martin said. "Something could happen, you know. They can break the window out. I mean, stuff could happen, but it was only a few minutes.”

Martin has been arrested several times since 2011, twice on charges of petit theft and twice for probation violations.

DCF spokesman John Harrell released a statement about the hot car incident Monday:

We are very concerned about this incident.  Not only is it illegal for a child to be left in a car, it is also inhumane and potentially deadly.  We will do a full and thorough investigation regarding this incident.

According to DCF, the temperature inside a parked vehicle can rise 20 degrees in just 10 minutes.

"Anyone who sees a young child, vulnerable adult, or animal left unattended in a vehicle during these extreme summer temperatures should contact emergency personnel immediately,"  said Patricia Medlock, managing director of DCF's Northeast Region. "Additionally, a new Florida law has made it legal for people to break into locked vehicles to rescue children or pets who are in danger."

For more tips on child safety during the summer months, visit myflfamilies.com/summersafety.