Police: Woman crawled through sunroof to save 2 toddlers alone in hot car

"I left the window open," the mother says on body camera footage; an officer responds, "It doesn't matter. How hot is it out here?"


By Mike Stunson
The Charlotte Observer

OKLAHOMA CITY — A mother was arrested after leaving her two toddlers alone in a hot car as she shopped in a Walmart for more than a half hour, Oklahoma police say.

The 2-year-old girls were “unresponsive and buckled in their car seats” during the incident on Sunday, Aug. 14, in Oklahoma City, according to a police report. A woman crawled through the open sunroof to rescue them, the report states.

“If it wasn’t for her, we’d still be trying to pull those car doors open,” Charlene Cooksey, who witnessed the rescue, told KOCO. “She’s the real hero cause she jumped in.”

The vehicle was parked in direct sunlight with no shade nearby, police said. It was 98 degrees outside at the time.

“A retired police officer working security for Walmart stated the vehicle was hot to the touch and she burned her hand as she attempted to make entry,” the police report states.

Police said the children were in shock and were crying after being removed from the car and put into a security vehicle with air conditioning.

The children’s mother, 33-year-old Elizabeta Babb, parked at the Walmart at 2:22 p.m. She exited the vehicle with “a young child,” and was seen walking out of the store at 2:28 p.m., according to police.

She quickly walked back into the store by herself and was spotted in surveillance footage checking out at 2:57 p.m., the police report states.

As the woman shopped in the store, Walmart workers announced over the intercom for the owner of the vehicle to come outside, but she did not leave until she left the checkout area, officers said.

Babb told officers she was only inside for five minutes, but footage from Walmart showed she was inside for 35 minutes, police said.

Babb was arrested and charged with two counts of child neglect, according to the report.

The children were released into the custody of their grandmother, police said.

“We’re grateful the children were rescued from the car and are doing well,” Walmart said in a statement to KOCO. “We’d also like to extend our thanks to the customers and associates who worked quickly to get the children to safety.”

©2022 The Charlotte Observer. Visit charlotteobserver.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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