Palatka mom accused of leaving infant inside hot car

Kaitlyn Fair faces felony charge of child neglect

PALATKA, Fla. – A Palatka woman was arrested Tuesday after an 8-month-old was left unattended in the backseat of a hot car for about 20 minutes, the Palatka Police Department said.

Kaitlyn Fair, 21, faces a felony charge of child neglect.

An officer was called Tuesday to Lending Bear Pawn on Reid Street after receiving a report of a child left in a hot car.

When the officer arrived, he said he saw an infant “sweating profusely” and appeared to be unresponsive in the backseat of a locked vehicle with the windows up and air conditioning off.

The officer found the mother inside the store. She said she only went inside for about three to four minutes, but surveillance video and an employee revealed Fair walk into the store with her other two children and stay for about 20 minutes, according to the Police Department.

Fair said she took her two other children inside the store, but did not take the infant inside because the infant had been having trouble sleeping, fell asleep on the way to store and she did not want to disturb him, the Police Department said.

“Her explanation was that the child was asleep and having a tough time sleeping and since she had finally gotten to sleep, she didn’t want to wake her up,” said Palatka Police Chief Jason Shaw.

Rescue crews were called and the infant appeared to be OK, the police report said. Fair was then booked into the Putnam County Jail on a bond $2,500.

The Department of Children and Families said the children were taken into protective custody. 

Earlier this week, an Interlachen mother was arrested after police said a 5-year-old boy was left unattended in a hot SUV for more than 40 minutes outside a Palatka Walmart store.

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

Shaw said it’s just irresponsible parenting and -- what starts off as running in and running right back out -- turns into much longer than parents think.

“It’s not the parents intentionally doing harm to the children, it’s just not being thoughtful and disregarding the health and the dangers,” Shaw said. "Just parents being irresponsible right now."

According to the National Safety Council, there have been 11 deaths involving children left in hot cars this year, compared to four at the same time last year.

Shaw said the Police Department is trying to prevent those type of incidents from happening. 

"We sent out the public safety notice, notifying them, letting them know how hot it is and to be careful not to leave children in the car. It's inexcusable," Shaw said. 

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