The mother of a 15-month-old boy who left the child in the car while shopping in Walmart on Sunday will likely not face charges because police believe the whole thing was an accident.


The mother of a 15-month-old boy who left the child in the car while shopping in Walmart on Sunday will likely not face charges because police believe the whole thing was an accident.
The child was returned unharmed to the parents after emergency medical personnel checked him out and found him to be unharmed, according to Police Det. Ben Vogt.
The incident was reported to police at around 4:30 p.m. Sunday, a day when the air temperature at the Joplin Regional Airport was 93 degrees, according to the National Weather Service website.
Carthage Police Chief Greg Dagnan said on Tuesday afternoon that police were close to completing their investigation into the incident.
“At this point, it is doubtful that any charges will even go to the prosecutor because the prosecutor obviously doesn't want charges if we don't have probable cause to believe a crime was committed,” Dagnan said. “At this point I don't believe we have that probable cause.”

What happened
Dagnan and Vogt said officers believed the mother honestly forgot the child was in the car when she went to Walmart and entered the store to shop.
“She told us her family had a very eventful weekend, she was exhausted and she ran to Walmart for a few things,” Vogt said. “It looks like it was completely accidental, one of those day-to-day grind things. When the mother got out of the store, she was extremely remorseful, she was very, very distraught.”
Vogt said two concerned citizens spotted the child in the car. The car was unlocked, so they took the child out and called 911.
Vogt said the Children's Division was called in and they were working with police on the investigation.
The names of the mother and child were not released.
Vogt said the child was checked out by Mercy Carthage Ambulance personnel and released to the mother and father, who came to the scene after he was called.
Commenters on The Carthage Press Facebook page were asking why the mother did not face charges.
The comments were made under the announcement that the railroad bridge on Missouri 96 was being opened when a commenter asked about the incident in the Walmart parking lot.

Intent
Dagnan said officers have to find that there was some mental intent before deciding charges are warranted in a case.
“For example, you have a few drinks, get behind the wheel, hit someone,” Dagnan said on Tuesday. “Well, you didn't mean to hit somebody. But there's that mental intent where you knew that having a few drinks and driving wasn't a good idea, there's a risk you chose to take that wasn't a good idea.
“Somebody's driving 100 miles per hour for fun, crash into a car and kill someone, well they didn't mean to kill anybody, but there was still a risk they were taking that was not justifiable.
“You have to have some mental state,” Dagnan continued. “In this case, while the investigation still continues, we are toward the last hours of it, we're wrapping it up, and all the evidence indicates there is no mental state of child abuse, neglect, that it was simply, they forgot the kid was in the car.”

Heroes
Dagnan said the people who spotted the child, called 911 and took the child out of the car were completely justified in their actions.
“In this case, there were some people who intervened, and in my mind they're heroes both to us and to the parent who forgot their child was in the car,” Dagnan said. “They opened the car, they got the child out, they called 911, and those were very heroic actions. It's the thing we say to people all the time, if you see something that doesn't look right, you've got to at least call us. These citizens got involved, and I think, probably kept a tragedy from happening.”
Dagnan said the law protects people who intervene, even to the point of breaking a window, to get a child out of a car. As for pets, the law is less clear.
Dagnan said the best thing to do, if someone sees a dog or another pet in a hot car, is call 911 immediately.
“We have the tools to get into cars very quickly, as does the fire department,” Dagnan said. “My thinking would be if you're concerned, call 911, we'll be there pretty quickly.”