The Department of Human Services has taken a baby into state custody after her mother left her in a hot van in a parking lot over the weekend, authorities said.


Tulsa police were called to a south-side Target store parking lot after a customer reported seeing a 3-month-old girl unattended in the vehicle about 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Officer Leland Ashley said.


 

  The Department of Human Services has taken a baby into state custody after her mother left her in a hot van in a parking lot over the weekend, authorities said.

Tulsa police were called to a south-side Target store parking lot after a customer reported seeing a 3-month-old girl unattended in the vehicle about 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Officer Leland Ashley said.

The baby's mother told police she was running several errands and had forgotten that her baby was with her, Ashley said Monday. She had not been arrested as of Monday.

"You have to weigh the situation, and she told us she didn't realize the child was in the van," Ashley said of the 29-year-old woman, whose name wasn't released because the case is still under investigation. The baby's name won't be released because it's in DHS custody.

Police estimated that the baby had been left in the hot vehicle for about 15 minutes, Ashley said. When police arrived, the outside temperature was 95 degrees and the child inside the van was soaking wet with perspiration, reports show.

She was taken to St. Francis Hospital, where she was treated for dehydration and then released to DHS.

As of Sunday, 22 children in the United States had died this year from hyperthermia, or heat stroke, because they were left alone in a vehicle, according to the Kids and Cars organization.

The temperature in a vehicle can rise as much as 80 percent within 30 minutes once the air conditioner is turned off, according to a study conducted by the Tulsa Police Department last year.

With temperatures nearing or even surpassing the 100-degree mark in recent days, police cautioned parents and caretakers not to leave young children alone in a vehicle for any length of time.

"Parents should remember this time of year not to leave a child unattended in a vehicle," Ashley said. "Every year, it seems like we have this kind of incident."

 

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.