Mother arrested, accused of leaving toddler in hot car in mall parking lot while she worked

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Dao Truc Le

COBB COUNTY, Georgia — A 16-month-old child was found alone in a hot car in a mall parking lot in an Atlanta suburb, and that child’s mother is behind bars.

“I couldn’t imagine leaving my children. The temperature gets so hot,” Nicole Nathan said.

Nathan lives next door to 23-year-old Dao Truc Le, the Smyrna, Georgia mother accused in this case, and as a mother herself, she was shocked to learn what allegedly happened on Thursday, July 6th.

“I hear so many stories like that about people leaving their kids in their car and I’m trying to figure out why. For hours. I don’t get it,” Nathan said.

A mall security guard spotted the 16-month-old child in the back of an SUV in the parking lot, and called police. The windows were rolled up and there was a blanket covering one of the rear windows near where the child sat.

“We got the call at 7:30. She had been in there, like I said, since 5:00 — so two-and-a-half hours, but it was still very hot,” Alicia Chilton with the Cobb County Police Department said.

Police reports indicate the toddler had a temperature of 100.2 at the hospital. The child had been checked out at the ER before police finally found the toddler’s mother, and brought her in for questioning.

“The mother actually worked inside the mall and left the kid in the car while she went to work,” Chilton said.

“A job is not worth their life,” Nathan said.

At the woman’s home in Smyrna, a man neighbors described as her companion made it clear he didn’t want to speak about the allegations.

The child is expected to fully recover, and is now in state custody.