LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The dangers of leaving kids in hot cars is well known, but Wednesday, a Louisville mother faced a judge for serious charges, accused of leaving her children alone in a car in the frigid weather.
Metro police were called around 5:40 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 2 by shoppers at the Walmart at 7100 Raggard Road.
They found the children -- ages 4, 20 months and six months -- in a car in the parking lot.
Officers say the car was off, the engine was not warm and the windows were cracked.
The news is troubling to both police and area health experts who say we should be just as concerned about children left in cars when it's cold, as we are when they are left in hot cars.
"What's alleged here is a very dangerous thing," Judge Sean Delahanty said to Broquel King, 28 in court Wednesday.
King, of Louisville, is charged with three counts of wanton endangerment, three counts of criminal abuse and one count of disorderly conduct. The mother also has a bench warrant for traffic offenses, a suspended license and no insurance.
Tuesday night the outside temperature was 15 degrees, with a wind chill of 9 when police arrived in the Walmart parking lot. Officers said the children had no way to get themselves out of the extreme conditions.
Officers caring for the kids called Metro EMS "due to uncertainty of how long the children had been in the brutal cold," according to her arrest report.
When King came out, she told police she had only been shopping for five minutes. But officers say they had been with her children for at least 20 minutes.
"Whatever temperature, you never leave a kid in a car any time, ever," Sharon Rengers said. Rengers is a Registered Nurse and Manager of Prevention and Wellness at Norton Children's Hospital.
While we may think of deadly dangers of hot cars more often verses cold, Rengers says sitting in a small confined space in the cold, like a car, can lead to hypothermia faster.
Hypothermia happens when a person's body temperature d rops below 95 degrees.
Children are also at greater risk, because they have smaller body mass, Rengers explained.
"They get hot quicker, they get cold quicker just because they can't regulate their temperature as well as an adult can," she said.
The judge told King, "It's fortunate that your kids are not suffering at this very moment."
LMPD asks anyone who sees a child left unattended in a car to call police immediately.
King was put on home incarceration. The judge ordered her to have no contact with her children until her court appearance Jan. 12. They are now in the custody of their father.