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Mother left young kids in cold car for 2 hours, Provo police say

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PROVO — A woman who police say left her three children alone in her vehicle for at least two hours while she shopped was cited Monday.

A concerned shopper at Provo Towne Center Mall, 1200 S. Towne Center Blvd., arrived at the mall parking lot about 3:25 p.m. and noticed a minivan with three children alone inside, said Provo Police Lt. Mathew Siufanua.

When the shopper returned to their car about an hour later, the van and the children were still there. At that point, the concerned citizen called police, Siufanua said.

When officers arrived, they found an 8-year-old boy, 6-year-old boy and 2-year-old toddler inside the vehicle.

"The 2-year-old was crying and clearly uncomfortable," Siufanua said. "We immediately got inside and took the 2-year-old into a patrol car and turned the heat on."

The other two children were wearing coats and hats and said they were not cold. The temperature outside at the time police arrived was 10 degrees, Siufanua said.

Detectives went inside the mall to have the mother paged. At 5:20 p.m. the woman returned to her vehicle. The Spanish Fork mother, 35, was cited for leaving a child unattended in a vehicle, a class C misdemeanor. She was then released and allowed to drive home with her children.

Under Provo City ordinance, it is illegal to leave anyone under the age of 6 alone in a vehicle longer than 10 minutes without having someone at least 12 years old in the vehicle, too, Siufanua said.

But he believes meeting just those minimum requirements is still a safety risk for kids.

"We recommend that you never leave children in a vehicle," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, 10 minutes is too long. Don't leave children in a car, especially ones that are so young they can't care for themselves."

Both extreme hot and cold temperatures can affect adults and children alike, the lieutenant said.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam