Passerby alerts RCMP to children left in running vehicle

Woman shocked to see kids left unattended while mom was shopping in a nearby store

Police are crediting a woman who called 911 to report two unattended young children in a van with helping avoid a potentially disastrous situation.

Earlier this week, Shannon MacKay, who is visiting from out of town, noticed a boy she believed to be about seven years old getting in and out of the vehicle in the Penticton Power Centre parking lot at 2210 Main St.

She estimated the black van, its motor still running, had been there for nearly an hour. Looking inside she noticed another young boy, about two years old, in a child safety seat.

“I saw the door open from the other side, and I saw the seven year old and I don’t know where he went but he got back inside the vehicle and that’s when I went around to talk to him,” said MacKay, who at that point dialed the emergency number on her cell phone.

“When I asked him how long he had been in there he said, ‘it’s been a long time.’  The video they were watching was over, plus the 40 minutes I was there.

“There are just so many scenarios that could have happened, especially if I was a bad person.”

She added the boy thanked her several times for getting help.

According to Cpl. Martin Trudeau of the Penticton RCMP, police were immediately dispatched and were able to locate the mother inside a nearby store. MacKay got the name of the Summerland woman from the older boy prior to the RCMP’s arrival.

“I don’t think people realize how dangerous this can be. If something is going to go wrong, it will, Murphy’s Law applies,” said Trudeau, who added it did not appear from the police file the woman who left the children alone was ticketed. “There are a million things that could have happened.

“There are people who steal from vehicles so we tell people not to leave anything out in the open and now you’re leaving two children out in the open in a running vehicle. “Good on the lady (MacKay) who called because it was definitely not a safe situation.”

He added it is at the discretion of the attending officer whether a ticket will be issued, saying it appeared there was no ill intent, but “poor judgement.”

The latest case was the second time in the last couple of weeks police attended the same parking lot for an unattended child.

The other incident happened about two weeks ago when an officer found a young child in a child safety seat in the back of a small car. He was able to gain access to the vehicle through the unlocked front door.  Further details of that matter were not available.

“I mean, come on, if you wouldn’t leave your children alone at home why would you leave them alone in the vehicle?” said Trudeau.