Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Public safety

Mother accused of leaving baby in hot van for over three hours

ST. PETERSBURG — A mother was charged with child abuse late Saturday after police said she left her 4-month-old infant in a hot minivan twice in one day.

Natasha Graver's Facebook page features a post about the three women — Grace Collier, 25, Briana Campbell, 23, and Jamesia Santoria, 21 — killed by a hit-and-run crash in St. Petersburg June 26. "Tell a friend to tell a friend DRIVE SAFE," the message, which she reposted, says.

On Saturday afternoon, police said Graver, 32, decided to attend the funeral for the three women at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church on 31st Street S in St. Petersburg. Police said she strapped her 4-month-old daughter into a car seat in her minivan and went to the church.

Graver told police that when she arrived at the service at about 1 p.m., she forgot about her daughter and left her inside the van with the windows rolled up.

When the temperature outside is between 80 and 100 degrees, cars parked in the sunlight can reach internal temperatures between 131 and 172 degrees, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. High temperatures outside Saturday were in the low 90s.

Once the service finished, Graver drove home to 2011 42nd St. S in St. Petersburg. She told police she still didn't remember her daughter was in the backseat, so she left the girl in the van, again with the windows rolled up, after arriving home.

Her husband told police he assumed his wife left the child with a relative. They found their daughter in the car when they left the house to go to dinner just before 4 p.m. They called police, and the girl was treated at the scene for heat exposure. She was taken to All Children's Hospital, and her condition was considered stable.

Standing outside their home Sunday, the family said Graver is a good mom. They declined to comment further, although Graver did hold up an infant she said was the baby girl left in the car.

"Look, she's fine," Graver said.

The baby was sucking her fingers.

Officers estimated the baby girl was left unattended for about three-and-a-half hours.

Graver has four other children who range in age from one year to 13 years old, who were left in the custody of her husband. She has no criminal history in the state. Child protection investigators were looking into the matter, police said.

Graver, who was taken to the Pinellas County Jail, faces a charge of child abuse. She was released early Sunday on $5,000 bail.

News researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Claire Wiseman can be reached at cwiseman@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8804. Follow on Twitter @clairelwiseman.

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