May 10, 2012

Baby left in hot car, parents jailed

By Magen McCrarey
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — A London couple was jailed Monday after they left their 8-month-old unattended in a hot car.

Robert and Rachel Smallwood were charged with first-degree criminal abuse and first-degree wanton endangerment and lodged in the Laurel County Detention Center.

On Monday at 2 p.m., London Police officers responded to a good Samaritan call that  a baby was found in a car parked in Kroger’s parking lot on Ky. 192.   Robert Smallwood was reportedly getting a haircut nearby inside the Ambiance Salon & Spa. A London couple walking by noticed the infant in the car crying.

Outside temperatures were in the 80s while the temperature inside the vehicle soared well over 100 degrees.

According to the London Police Department, the couple were able to retrieve the child from of the vehicle because it was unlocked.  Upon contact, police said she was red and appeared to be covered in sweat. The baby was otherwise unharmed.

“This is not acceptable, when this stuff happens we are going to make arrests,” said Police Chief Stewart Walker.  “We are just not going to tolerate it.”

The situation hit too close to home for the police department, Walker said, because of an infant fatality that occurred about four years ago also due to the child being left unattended for an extended period of time in a hot vehicle.

“This is devastating when you sit and stop to think about the consequences what could have happened,” said Cpt. Derek House.

“How long would have it been before they decided to come back to the car?” Walker asked.

Upon questioning, Rachel Smallwood revealed she was currently pregnant with her second child.  Robert Smallwood told to a Department for Community Based Services worker that it was not necessary that he and Rachel both leave the child unattended.  

Through further investigation, it was discovered that the child had been left in the non-running vehicle for more than 20 minutes prior to being removed.  Neither parent came back to the vehicle at any point to check on her.  The child was taken immediately into protective custody by the Department for Community Based Services, part of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services and later turned over to family members.  

Last year in June, the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office made a similar arrest of parent who left a baby in a hot vehicle.  

Detective Anderkin is continuing the investigation.  Assisting at the scene was Chief Stewart Walker, Detective Gary Proffitt, Sgt. Daryl Kilburn, Officers Bryon Lawson and Richie Reynolds and the Department of Community Based Services.