Temperatures in Iowa reached dangerously low levels on Tuesday as a large polar vortex weather system swept through the area.
But that didn’t stop one mom from leaving her two children, ages 2 and 4, in the car while she applied for a job in the town of Council Bluffs, according to police.
KETV reports that the wind chill was well below freezing when 25-year-old Stephany C. Moses left her kids in her vehicle and entered a Boots Barn store.
Council Bluffs Police Department Lt. Darren Budd told the outlet:
“The temperature was 5 degrees at that time, so approximately 15 below wind chill.”
The car’s window was cracked open, and the children were left inside “wearing light clothing,” according to KWQC.
Area resident Jennifer Morgan was walking through the parking lot when she noticed the children. She told KETV:
“We were at Party City, and we happened to walk out, and we see this little boy just standing in the back seat, and the window’s cracked.”
The door was unlocked, and Morgan said the boy came right to her. She put the children in her car to keep them warm, and her cousin called the police.
Moses came out of the store about 45 minutes after leaving the children in the car.
Morgan said the mom appeared to realize she “really did screw up” when she saw authorities waiting for her.
The mother has since been charged with two counts of child endangerment. Budd said:
“With the ability of people to freeze at a temperatures like that, especially lightly dressed, especially somebody that can’t protect themselves in any way shape or form, it’s pretty egregious to me.”
According to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, young children are at higher risk when exposed to cold temperatures because they can’t regulate their body temperature as well as adults.
Thankfully, the children left in the vehicle were uninjured.