Parents leave children in car in near-freezing temperatures to attend wine tasting
Thursday, February 5, 2015, 5:16 PM - A 22-month-old boy and a 2-and-a-half year old girl were left unattended in a car in near-freezing temperatures while their parents attended a wine tasting, USA Today reports.
Christopher Lucas, 41 and Jennie Chang, 45, of Washington, D.C. have been charged with second-degree cruelty to children. They pleaded not guilty at an arraignment Monday.
On Saturday, a woman contacted police after noticing the children locked in a Volvo near a Ritz Carleton Hotel.
They were restrained in car seats. According to police reports, the girl was crying and the boy appeared to be fine.
The temperature at the time was about 1 degrees Celsius. Neither children were wearing gloves or hats.
Lucas approached the car shortly after police arrived at the scene. He told officers he had "left to go inside the restaurant," for a wine tasting but he "was watching [the kids]," who were sleeping when they arrived.
Lucas then pulled a cellphone timer out of the car indicating the children had been in the vehicle for 58 minutes.
When Chang arrived at the scene she allegedly asked officers "what is the problem?"
The children were examined by an ambulance and taken into protective custody. Lucas and Chang have been ordered to stay away from their children.
Their next court hearing is scheduled for Feb. 18.
The parents could face a fine of up to $25,000 and 10 years in prison if found guilty.