PINELLAS PARK — All Aaron Clore had in mind Monday coming out of a Target store was getting into his truck and turning on the air conditioning. Before he knew it, the EMT and firefighter was involved in the arrest of a mother who had left her infant daughter alone in her car.
Clore, 34, of Titusville, said he was in town because his 7-year-old son had recently undergone a bone marrow transplant at All Children's Hospital. Just before 5 p.m. Clore, his wife and the boy had just left the Target at 7150 U.S. 19 N when his wife, Monica, called him over to a car idling in the parking lot.
Clore looked through the window of the Toyota Camry and saw an infant girl in a car seat, crying. No one else was in the car.
Despite her distress, the girl was not sweating and appeared to be breathing easily, Clore said. Pinellas Park police later said the outside temperature at the time was 92 degrees with a heat index of 101.
Moreover, the car sat conspicuously in the middle of the lot, not surrounded by other cars, Clore said. A former Marine military policeman, Clore said he was concerned about the risk of auto theft as well as the child's safety.
"If you're going to steal a car, you look for the easiest target," he said. "The obvious target is a running vehicle."
He called 911.
While he was on the phone, a woman approached the car. Clore told the woman she should not leave her child unattended.
"She said, 'She's fine,'" Clore said. "I said, 'Ma'am, this is unacceptable. You can't do this.'"
Clore said the mother "wasn't upset, until I told her I was on the phone with the police department," who had been alerted by the 911 operator.
"She said, 'Why? The car is running,'" Clore recalled. The woman noted that the doors were locked and the air conditioner was on. She put the car in gear and began to pull away.
Before she could leave the parking lot, a Pinellas Park officer, who was already on the scene for an unrelated traffic crash, pulled up behind the Toyota, lights flashing.
Vita Abramemenkova, 35, of Clearwater, told police she had been in the Target for about 40 minutes while her 19-month-old daughter remained in the car.
Abramemenkova was charged with child neglect and booked into the Pinellas County Jail. Authorities turned the child over to the custody of her father. Abramemenkova was released early Tuesday on a $2,000 bond.
Researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Andrew Meacham at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2248. Follow @torch437.