A Florida Woman Is Facing Jail Time After Leaving a Baby in a Hot Car

By: Stephanie Bontorin | Published: Jul 04, 2024

A two-year-old child was discovered alone in a hot car outside of a Publix grocery store when the child’s grandmother went inside for 16 minutes.

Temperatures in the area reached over 90 degree Farenheight and first responders were called to smash the window open and save the child’s life.

Information on the Family

Elena Grady is the 63-year-old grandmother of the two-year-old child found inside the hot car on Tuesday.

A woman with brown hair wearing an orange top taking a mug shot

Source: Volusia County Branch Jail

After police were called to the scene, Grady was booked into the Volusia County Branch Jail for child neglect, causing bodily harm.

Details of the Incident

Volusia County sheriff deputies were called to the Publix on Roscommon Drive at Ormond Beach around 3 in the afternoon on Tuesday. Managers in the store noticed a child along in the car on the scorching summer day.

A police officer wearing a blue uniform holds two children in a parking lot

Source: @MtJulietPolice/X

When first responders got to the scene, they noted that the child “appeared lethargic” inside of the car. Also, the car was parked in direct sun with no shade, no air conditioning running, and no windows open.

How Dangerous Is a Hot Car?

A report from Kids Health shows that since young children have a difficult time regulating their body temperature, they can easily succumb to heat stroke.

A woman holds her hand up to the air conditioning vent in a car

Source: @SpotHero/X

The temperature inside a car on a hot day can surpass the outside temperature extremely quickly. Leaving a child for just a few minutes can be deadly in hot temperatures.

How Many Kids Die Each Year?

In the US, more than 40 kids die every year from heatstroke. The usual causes are being left unattended in a hot car or trapped inside.

A single silver car sits in a parking lot

Source: @LFEntRadio/X

In most of these cases, the child was accidentally forgotten inside of the car. However, in the case of Grady, leaving her grandchild in the car unattended was purposeful.

Grady Attempted to Run From Police

After the sheriff’s deputies were able to get the child safely out of the car, Grady allegedly took the child back into her custody and left the store.

A police siren lit up at night.

Source: Scott Rodgerson/Unsplash

After officials were able to watch security footage and see just how long Grady was inside the store, they located her home and made the arrest.


Extremely Hot Day in Florida

When Grady left her grandchild in the car unattended, the heat outside was 91 degrees Fahrenheit with a heat index of 101 degrees.

The front seat of a car with black interior

Source: @ACHI_Net/X

Even outside of hot locations like Florida, leaving a child in a hot car can have deadly consequences. Grady is lucky that her grandchild was able to recover quickly.


How Fast Can a Car Heat Up?

On Facebook, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office posted a reminder about how dangerous this situation is.

A child wearing a red shirt sleeping in a car seat with damp hair

Source: @VaDOT/X

They described how quickly a car can heat up on a summer day. Inside a car that has been turned off, the interior can reach 120 degrees within 30 minutes and 138 degrees after 90 minutes.


Gentle Reminder from the Sheriff Department

In their Facebook post, the sheriff’s department reminded parents to keep an eye on their kids in the backseat.

A row of white Sheriff SUVs parked in a lot next to a brick building

Source: Bruno Guerrero/Unsplash

“Let’s avoid tragedy and remember NOT to leave children, pets, or vulnerable adults in a hot vehicle even if it’s only supposed to be a few minutes.”


Pets Can Also Suffer From Heat Stroke Easily

While it might seem easy to leave a dog unattended in a hot car to grab something from the store, pets can succumb to heat stroke even faster than children.

A dog smiles while looking at the viewer with its tongue out.

Source: Milli/Unsplash

Dogs can suffer from fatal heat stroke within 15 minutes of being unattended in a hot car. Animals struggle to regulate their body temperature and will have an increasingly difficult time recovering from an incident.


Experts Share Tips to Avoid Leaving Children Behind

In 53% of cases where a child dies in a hot car, the parent left them there by mistake. Usually, sleep-deprived parents can revert to their previous routines and walk away from the car, forgetting that their infant is sitting in the rear-facing car seat.

A young child sits in their car seat holding a green stuffy

Source: Alexander Grey/Unsplash

Experts recommend taking off your left shoe and placing it in the back seat to remind yourself when leaving the car that something else is in the backseat.


Trial Date is Pending for Grady

As of now, Grady has been released on a $3,000 bond, which was posted on Wednesday night.

A judge's gavel rests on its sounding block on a wooden surface, with a person in the background


She will have to wait for her court date to find out if any jail time will be handed down as punishment for the incident.