LANCASTER – A Lancaster couple accused of leaving two toddlers unattended in a sweltering vehicle outside of a local welfare office have been jailed on child abuse charges, authorities said.
Brandi Mann, 30, and 42-year-old David Dillard are each charged with two felony counts of child abuse, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.
They are accused of leaving a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old in a locked vehicle for about 15 minutes during the afternoon of June 6, when temperatures were in excess of 100 degrees, according to deputy Miguel Ruiz of the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station.
“The car was in the parking lot of the Department of Public Social Services off of K-6,” Ruiz said, adding that Mann and Dillard were inside the welfare office and had apparently left the toddlers unattended in the vehicle.
Witnesses contacted deputies after the 3-year-old squeezed out of one of the partially open side windows and escaped from the vehicle, Ruiz said.
“There were witnesses at the scene that said that the 3-year-old was almost struck by cars as he was wandering around in the parking lot after escaping out of the vehicle,” Ruiz said. “When deputies responded, the children were sweating profusely and showing early signs of heat exhaustion.”
The toddlers were treated at the scene and then taken into protective custody by the Department of Children and Family Services, Ruiz said.
Dillard and Mann were arrested that afternoon on suspicion of child cruelty. The pair pleaded not guilty to felony child abuse charges on Monday (June 10). Mann remains jailed on $200,000 bail, while Dillard is being held on $270,000 bail, according to jail records.
Both are due back in court on June 20 for a preliminary hearing.
“It’s never a good idea to leave children unattended in a vehicle. Aside from the heat, it’s just not safe at all,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz further explained, “This incident should serve as a reminder to the general public that children should never be left unattended in a vehicle. During these coming summer months, it is even more dangerous to leave children, elderly people, and animals unattended in a vehicle even with windows partially open. The interior of vehicles can easily reach triple digit degree temperatures in a matter of seconds. These high temperatures pose a significant danger to the health of the vehicle’s occupants.”
Anyone who witnesses these types of incidents should immediately call 9-1-1, Ruiz added.