“A little boy in the backseat:” Mom accused of leaving 3-year-old in hot car while she shopped at Walmart

WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania -- Police say a mother was cited for leaving her three-year-old child alone in a locked vehicle while she shopped at Walmart.

Wilkes-Barre Township police say some shoppers noticed something very disturbing in the Walmart parking lot -- a young child sleeping inside a vehicle, alone.

"That's crazy! Should not be happening. Take your kid with you," said Carrie Modzelewski of Wilkes-Barre.

The shoppers called 911. Police, EMS, and the township's fire department all responded.

"When we got there, there was a little boy in the back seat," said Capt. Clyde Moyer with Wilkes-Barre Township Fire Department. "We were getting ready to pop the door open when the mom came out of Walmart."

According to police, Rachel Johnson told officers that her three-year-old son was sleeping when she and her three other children got to Walmart around 3:30 p.m. Monday. Not wanting to wake the child, she and the other children went inside the store.

"You leave them in the car, and anybody can come and grab them," said one shopper, who didn't want to give her name. "I take my grandchildren shopping and when they say, 'I'm not going in that store.' I say, 'Yes you are -- even if I have to carry you in there.'"

Johnson told officers she locked the vehicle and used the remote start function to allow the vehicle to run with the air conditioning on. However, police say vehicles started that way will shut off after 10 minutes. Johnson said she was in the store for a total of 20 minutes.

People said with the soaring temperatures, they can't understand what she was thinking.

"It's like what, 90 something degrees out, right?" said Ed Urban.

"On a day like today, it's so horribly hot out," said Margeret Burke. "It wouldn't be great to leave a three-year-old alone anywhere."

"I wouldn't leave my dog in my car on a winter day, let alone my child on a hot summer day," said Bobbie Higgs.

The child was determined to be fine after being checked out by paramedics.

Police say Johnson has been cited for leaving a child unattended and a referral has been made to Luzerne County Children and Youth.