Police in Iowa City charged a Rock Island, Illinois woman with child endangerment Tuesday after she allegedly left an infant in her van while she went shopping. Sergeant Troy Kelsay says a person called police at 12:25 p.m. after spotting the six-month-old child in the unattended van. The caller said the baby was crying and covered in perspiration.
"It’s just a poor practice even on a day when weather isn’t a factor," Kelsay said. "You should not leave a six-month-old unattended in a vehicle for any length of time, for any reason," Kelsay said. The temperature in Iowa City at the time of the call was 90-degrees. The caller saw a woman exit Menards and drive off in the van.
Police stopped the van on Highway 6 and arrested 51-year-old Emma Spin-Samaniego. She claimed she was in Menards for 10 minutes and left the child, who was sleeping at the time. "She downplayed the incident, I’m paraphrasing here, but she said ‘people are overreacting,’" Kelsay said.
Spin-Samaniego told officers she was watching the baby as a favor to the infant’s mother. She did not leave the van running and there was no air conditioning when she left the baby in the car.
Kelsay says it’s hard to believe. "Just this morning I drove across town and I happened to have a Hersheys candy bar in my truck. I wouldn’t leave that candy bar unattended for more than one or two minutes and this is a six-month-old infant who was (left alone) for at least 10 minutes," Kelsay said.
In addition to child endangerment, Spin-Samaniego was also charged with failure to secure a child. Kelsay says the infant was seated in a child carrier, but the baby was not secured in the carrier and the carrier was not secured to the rear seat. Police were not immediately able to reach the child’s mother.
The baby was turned over to the Department of Human Services. Spin-Samaniego was transported to the Johnson County Jail.