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Toddler left in hot car near downtown library

Original post made on Aug 29, 2007

A 2-year-old girl was left in a locked vehicle Tuesday afternoon as temperatures climbed, police said, forcing rescuers to smash the vehicle's windows to retrieve her. She was unharmed, and her caretaker was arrested following the incident.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, August 29, 2007, 1:55 PM

Comments (18)

Posted by GSB
a resident of Castro City
on Aug 29, 2007 at 3:27 pm

What in the bloody heck?! Common sense was nowhere to be found with this person.

Posted by Concerned mom
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Aug 30, 2007 at 7:15 am

This is a lesson to all parents to really know who is taking care of your children. I am happy that someone called the cops instead of assuming the caregiver would be back soon. The parents of that child are very lucky.

Posted by Becca
a resident of Whisman Station
on Aug 30, 2007 at 10:58 am

If you have enough money to afford a Nanny, it seems you could put a little more money into a background check. Or, maybe stay home with your child instead of spending your time at the day spa and leaving your child with incompetent care providers! The passer-by who reported this should be given a medal for savign this child's life!

Posted by steve
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 30, 2007 at 1:19 pm

Becca - who said the parents were at a Day Spa? Or didn't fund a background check? How did you come to this conclusion?

Although the act of leaving a child in a hot car is unbelievable and horrendous, I'm sure the parents didn't think they were endangering their child by leaving their care and safety to another. My guess: they were just as horrifed as us readers.

Posted by Becca
a resident of Whisman Station
on Aug 30, 2007 at 2:10 pm

Steve-well said! But my "guess" is as good as yours. Bottom line is one little girl is lucky to be alive, thanks to the passer-by. We live in very affluent community. Maybe we should all consider giving up our SUVs, Nannys and million dollar homes so at least one parent can afford to stay home with our children. Our family did.

Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Aug 30, 2007 at 2:53 pm

Wow, Becca, way to stray off the subject. Are you saying that parents arent allowed to EVER get a sitter? That ALL working parents are neglecting their children? Single Moms?

Virtually everyone I know that employs a nanny does so because they need to- just because you made it work doesnt mean everyone can.

Posted by Lisa
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 30, 2007 at 3:58 pm

There are only two facts in what happened at the parking lot in downtown Mtn. View. The first is that a child could have been seriously hurt and the second is that someone did the right thing to help and called the police.

Posted by Becca
a resident of Whisman Station
on Aug 30, 2007 at 4:38 pm

Eric-that's not what I am saying at all. I have the highest regard for single parents and working families. I am just saying we (and I included myself in that we) could all could learn from this near tragedy. My family is making it work by going without a lot of nice "things" most in our community take for granted, but absolutely nothing is worth placing our children in harms way. Nobody loves their child more than their own parents. Thank you Lisa, for pointing us all in the right direction.

Posted by pam
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 30, 2007 at 5:41 pm

I hope they throw the book at her. If she is legal she should serve a long jail term, if not, she should still stand trial, go to prison and then be deported. I wonder how extensive her background check if any was and if her references were personally checked and verified by the parents, before she was hired. They paid her to use their car, gave her keys to their home, and to almost kill their little child.

Posted by MVresidentX
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 30, 2007 at 7:14 pm

This was a horrible incident that thankfully had a good ending. No one should judge this family. We don't know them. Nor their reasons for needing a nanny, whether or not they did a background check, etc. I am just thankful to live in a community where a citizen took the time to look around, see a child in trouble and act accordingly. Let's all follow this person's lead and look out for one another in Mountain View. You never know when you may be in the right place and moment to help someone else in trouble.

Posted by Springer School Mom
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 30, 2007 at 9:03 pm

The fact is, she was very selfish to think of her needs first and not of the child. She put the child at risk by leaving her unattended so that she could do whatever she intended to do. Why didn't she take the child with her? I'm grateful to the passerby who took notice and action immediately to save that child's life. I would of done the same thing.

Posted by pete
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 31, 2007 at 6:30 am

the parents didn't even know the nanny DID NOT have a drivers license! what else did they not bother to check out before they left their daughter with her?

Posted by Olaf
a resident of Castro City
on Sep 1, 2007 at 10:27 am

I'm very happy the child was saved. What is the difference between a 2 year old and a 27 year old? I tried to call the cops but they didn't listen. I called my district rep and the senators, no one is listening, yet soldiers from our own community are getting seriously injured and really killed, as in not coming home. I even called KGO Radio to report the death. Analogous to the comments above, they are on target and applicable.

Sgt. Michael E. Tayaotao, 27, of Sunnyvale died Thursday, Aug 9th, 2007 after suffering injuries in the Al Anbar province.

1) "What in the bloody heck?! Common sense was nowhere to be found with this" administration.
2) Leaving our soldiers is same as "leaving your child with incompetent care providers!"
3) "I hope they throw the book at her." as well as throwing the book at the group of people responsible for killing Sgt. Michael E. Tayaotao.
4) "I am just thankful to live in a community where a citizen took the time to look around, see a child in trouble and act accordingly". I agree and there are still many of our children in trouble for reasons no one is willing to tell me.
5) "the parents didn't even know the nanny DID NOT have a drivers license! what else did they not bother to check out before they left their daughter with her?" Precisely. I question if our leaders have a real license to send our kids into a hot sand pit? What else did WE not check before putting our community soldiers sweating profusely in harms way?

I have a friend I grew up with in Mtn. View who is stationed overseas. I don't have a window to smash!

Posted by Bernie Brightman
a resident of North Whisman
on Sep 1, 2007 at 12:17 pm

This story raises many questions for me, legal, moral, medical.

I wonder if the person who spotted the baby was carrying a cell phone and called it in himself or if he went inside the library and asked library personnel to do so? Either way, was the 911 line used (more likely in the cell phone scenario) or was the MV police station number dialed? Would this be a justifiable use of 911?

While waiting for the police to arrive, if the situation was so serious, e.g. to as to use 911, should the citizen have gone ahead and broken the window himself? Could there have been legal implications for him? If yes, do legal implications matter in comparison to a young life?

If there were someone with medical ability around, could they have diagnosed how long the baby had left? Should this have affected the decision?

Suppose a doctor felt that maybe the baby had an hour of life yet and the nanny came back in 3 minutes. Would this have affected the guilt level of the nanny?

What is the minimum amount of time the nanny could have left the baby in the car? Would it be 0 seconds or could it be more? Suppose, for example, while driving, the nanny's car were rear-ended in a minor fender bender. Could the nanny go out to inspect the damage or would she have to release the baby from all of the restraints first, carry the baby out and only then inspect?

I wonder how clear the law is on these kinds of matters.

Posted by Concerned citizen
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 2, 2007 at 10:11 pm

My fellow neighbor Bernie, you raised some diffult issues in your post. However, when a child is in need, you react with your heart and gut feeling and do what is best at the moment. You don't have time to think about what could or could not happen. The child's life is #1. Thank goodness that there are people out there that care about someone else other than themselves and are willing to sacrifice their time and effort to save a child in need.

Posted by Mark
a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 3, 2007 at 11:50 am

Could the bank be held liable because they didn't give the nanny her visa back?

Posted by sohill
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2007 at 10:14 pm

let's see: 3 year old madeleine mccan was left with her twin 2 year old siblings asleep in a resort bedroom ( one with free evening babysitting) while her parents went for dinner. The restaurant was across the pool at a walking distance of about 150 ft. The outside door to the bedroom was intentionally left open by the parents. Madeleine disappeared. They say they didn't think any harm would come to their children since they were not far and they checked the children every 1/2 hour. Both parents are physicians- the father a cardiologist, the mather an internist. Should they have the same punishment same of you are advocating for the nanny? Many times we don't perceive danger at all and we are not all made aware of the problems that may occur with some situations. The question is not what someone did, but did they know that was wrong when they did it? When my children were small I observed many times children left in the parking lot of the Menlo Park Safeway. What impressed me badly was that some of those parents were very educated and knowledgedable and their children attended the same nursery school as my son. I was considered paranoid for not doing what they did. I perceived danger even before there were awareness campaigns about children in locked cars, but those parents didn't- they thought I was overprotective. Now, should those parents have been thrown the book? In this case the nanny ( who i believe should evidently have to make amends) was in fact totally unprepared to take care of a baby and probably not trained. Where she comes from probably is common to do what she did (as it is common in Britain, where lived for many years, to leave children alone for periods when their parents are going for a quick errand). Please don't atribute malice and irresponsability where lack of awareness, cultural and language barriers and maybe stupidity would sufice.

Posted by a
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 10, 2007 at 7:26 pm

here's the updated story....

Nanny arraigned in locked-toddler case
D.A. says Juhee Hong will likely 'spend some time' in detention facility

The woman accused of leaving a toddler in a locked vehicle last week was arraigned Friday, and the District Attorney on the case says she'll probably "stay in jail until she's served enough time."

Juhee Hong, 24, a South Korean national, is accused of leaving a two-year-old Mountain View girl in a hot SUV near the downtown library last Tuesday afternoon, forcing rescuers to smash the windows to retrieve her. She was arrested at the scene and charged with felony child endangerment, although the charges were later reduced to misdemeanor child endangerment. The toddler was unharmed, police said.

According to court records, Hong had come to the U.S. one month ago on a J-1 visa as part of a cultural exchange program through a group called Cultural Homestay International. At the time of her arrest, she was employed as a nanny by a Mountain View family. If she is found guilty of the current charges, her visa could be revoked, and she could serve up to a year in prison.

At her Friday arraignment, which featured a Korean interpreter, she was assigned a public defender to assist her.

According to police reports, Hong said she had left the toddler to open an account at a nearby bank. She said the baby was asleep when she went to the bank and that she left the car windows open. She said she did not think she would be gone for long, but that the bank took her visa and she was afraid to leave without it.

Police say Hong returned to the vehicle about half an hour after police and fire units arrived. She is still being held at Santa Clara County Main Jail on $50,000 bail.

Hong has no prior record, according to the district attorney's office. She has no known family in the United States and speaks little English.

She said she now understands it was wrong to leave a child unattended in a vehicle, especially in the heat, the police report said.

The baby was in the car for less than 30 minutes, said Javier Alcala, supervising district attorney for Palo Alto. However, he said, "it wasn't good judgment and it endangered the child."

"She didn't intentionally try to harm the child. She was negligent," he said.

Alcala added that it is likely Hong will "spend some time" in the Elmwood women's detention facility.

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