ODESSA, Texas (KMID/KPEJ)- A Snyder, Texas woman was arrested in Odessa Sunday after police said she left her children in a car with no air conditioning. Gloria Benitez, 33, has been charged with two counts of Child Endangerment.
According to an affidavit, around 12:20 in the morning on May 22, an officer with the Odessa Police Department was flagged down while he was working security at a bar on 8th Street. The person who flagged the officer down said two children were left alone in a car.
The officer stated he found the vehicle and saw two little girls, later confirmed to be seven and five, inside crying. The officer said the vehicle was turned off and the windows were rolled up, and when the children opened the door for police, the inside of the SUV was hot. The children said they didn’t know where their mother was.
Police eventually found the mom, identified as Benitez, who said she had been in the parking lot arguing with her ex-boyfriend. The mom told police she’d only been away from the children for about 10 minutes.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it only takes minutes for a hot car to become dangerous for young children.
“A child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult’s. When a child is left in a hot vehicle, that child’s temperature can rise quickly — and they could die within minutes,” NHTSA stated on its website.
NTHSA said children should never been left alone in a vehicle, even if the windows are open or the engine is running.
In addition to reportedly leaving her children alone in a hot car, Benitez had also been drinking prior to the incident. According to the officer, she smelled of alcohol and had glossy eyes. Additionally, open containers of alcohol were found inside her car and officers later discovered Benitez had been driving with a suspended license.
Benitez was taken to the Ector County Law Enforcement Center where she was later released on a combined $20,000 bond.