Calgary

Young children left in cold vehicle as mothers went to bar, Lethbridge police say

A three-year-old girl and four-year-old boy were left unattended in a vehicle in -18 C weather Thursday, Lethbridge police say. Charges have been laid against their mothers.

Charges laid after 3 and 4 year old found in -18 C weather

Lethbridge police have charged two women with failing to provide the necessaries of life after two children were left unattended in a vehicle for more than an hour Thursday evening. Police say the children's mothers were inside this downtown Lethbridge bar. (Patrick Burles)

A three-year-old girl and four-year-old boy in Lethbridge were left unattended in a vehicle in -18 C weather Thursday as their mothers went inside a bar for over an hour, police say.

"I believe if the children were left for longer there could have been a fatality," said Staff Sgt. Leon Borbandy with the Lethbridge Police Service.

At about 11:30 p.m. Thursday, Lethbridge police responded to a report of a child crying inside a locked, shut-off vehicle parked along the 200 block of Fifth Street south.

Police say they found a toddler in a car seat crying and in obvious distress. Officers broke a window to get inside and found a second child in the vehicle, under a pile of clothes.

Police found the mothers of the young children inside a nearby downtown bar, called Studio 54, and said video surveillance provided by the bar showed the women had been inside for more than an hour.

"We are very fortunate and appreciative that a concerned citizen did call us and we were able to respond promptly to prevent this situation from ending in tragedy," Borbandy said.

A 31-year-old woman and a 24-year-old woman have each been charged with one count of failing to provide the necessaries of life. Although unusual in everyday parlance, the word "necessaries" — not "necessities" — is the term the legal system uses.

The women are not being named to protect the identities of the children.

Both children were taken to hospital but "did not sustain any lasting injuries," police said. They are now in the care of a relative. 

"It kind of goes without saying, however children, especially young children, rely on adults in their lives to look after them," Borbandy said. 

"Young children should never be left unattended in vehicles regardless of the time of year."