Woman Turns Herself in After Leaving Infant in Hot Car

August 15, 2017 Updated: August 15, 2017

A woman in New Canaan, Connecticut, is facing criminal charges after she left her infant in a hot car in July and called the police to get help.

Kathryn Ferguson, 34, is being charged with risk of injury to a child after she went shoe shopping and bought a lemonade while her 11-week-old infant was asleep in the car. She came back to find the baby crying, red-faced, and covered in what appeared to be sweat, police report.

Kathryn Ferguson, (New Canaan Police)
Kathryn Ferguson. (New Canaan Police)

The temperature on that day, July 18, was 85 degrees at the time, police say. Accuweather lists the high as 87 degrees and the low 72 degrees for the day.

The car was reportedly turned off and the windows were closed while the infant was in there.

According to Ferguson’s warrant, an officer checked the spot where the child’s car seat was behind the driver’s seat and saw the child was directly in the sunlight.

After Ferguson called the police, which came with EMS, both mother and baby were put in an ambulance to cool down, the Stamford Advocate reports. Later the infant was taken to the Norwalk Hospital for evaluation where it was medically cleared.

Ferguson said she only left the child in the car for 10 minutes, but police say that based on surveillance video, receipts, and talking to businesses in the area, she was gone for 48 minutes.

She also reportedly said the child was quietly sleeping, so she forgot it was in there when she left to run her errands. Surveillance video shows that Ferguson “did not look into the back seat once she exited the vehicle”, a police affidavit says.

According to the arrest warrant, the Fergusons have a nanny who watches the older children, however the mother decided to take the infant with her while she ran errands that day.

New Canaan Police reported suspected child abuse or neglect to the State of Connecticut Department of Child and Families.

On Aug. 11, Ferguson turned herself in after the New Canaan police obtained a warrant for her arrest. She posted $20,000 bond and was released the same day.

She is scheduled to appear in Norwalk Superior Court on Aug. 22.

According to data collected by NoHeatstroke.org, there have been 32 heatstroke deaths of children left in cars so far in 2017. There were a total of 39 last year, which is just over the average per year over the last two decades.

A study cited on the organization’s website measured the rise in temperature in a dark blue mid-size sedan with grey interior. On the days with an ambient temperature between 72 and 96 degrees F, the  interior temperature of the car rose by 34 degrees F after 30 minutes, and by 43 degrees after 60 minutes. Below is the full table of results.

Average elapsed time and temperature rise: 
10 minutes ~ 19 deg F
20 minutes ~ 29 deg F
30 minutes ~ 34 deg F
60 minutes ~ 43 deg F
1 to 2 hours ~ 45-50 deg F
2 to 4 hours ~ 50-55 deg F