SEVIERVILLE (WATE) – A Sevierville woman has been charged with leaving her baby in a hot car while she was grocery shopping on Wednesday.
The Sevierville Police Department said Christina M. Smith, 31, of Seymour, took her 9-year-old son with her into the Aldi store, but left her 7-month-old baby strapped in the backseat with the windows down and the doors unlocked.
According to a police report, witness Becky Truelove said she had heard the child screaming in the parking lot, and found the child inside the car “blood red” and soaked in sweat.
“I heard a baby screaming, crying,” Truelove said. “The sun was directly on her, and it was 96 degrees on the pavement that day. She was blood red. Arms, everything was just… she was sweating, soaked from being so hot.”
Truelove called police to say she was taking the child out of the vehicle. When police arrived, the child’s skin was flushed, but was not crying.
“It could have gone bad really quick,” Truelove said. “But I think God put me there that day so thankfully everything turned out okay this time. Next time it might not come out so good for her.”
While speaking with Truelove, the officer heard a woman gasp that she had left her child. Smith walked up with a full cart of groceries and said she thought her niece had taken the baby out of the vehicle to watch her while she went to the store.
Smith repeatedly said she was only in the store for 20 to 25 minutes. Attempts to contact the niece were not successful.
Another officer arrived with a laser thermometer. A nearby bank reported the outside temperature to be 93 degrees, but the interior of the vehicle registered 111. The child had a temperature of 99.3 when emergency responders arrived and they had to cool off the child with cold water. She was taken to Leconte Medical Center for treatment.
Smith was taken into custody on a child abuse charge and is being held on $15,000 bond. She scheduled for her first court appearance on August 21. Both children were placed in the custody of Smith’s mother-in-law.
Despite her heroic actions, Truelove said she does not consider herself a hero and she was only doing the right thing.
“God put me there. He gives us instincts as a mother and a grandmother to hear these things, and that’s all I did,” Truelove said. “I just did what I hope everybody else would do. I’m not a hero. I’m just glad I was there, that’s all.”