Police arrested a Noblesville mother Monday afternoon after allegedly leaving her 11-month-old daughter alone in a sweltering hot car while she shopped. Pooja Thakkar, 31, was arrested on a preliminary charge of child neglect.
Noblesville police credit a witness who noticed the child in the rear passenger seat of a car outside a Bed, Bath & Beyond and called 911. Officers arrived just before 2 p.m. and pulled the child out.
Zalak Thakkar, a friend of Pooja Thakkar (no relation), told Fox59 News that he was shocked to learn the news.
"I don't know what to think,” Zalak Thakkar said. "I can hardly speak to be honest with you because she is the last person on earth that I would think that would be involved with something like this."
It was about 95 degrees outside by the time Noblesville Police got to the scene. Officers found the window nearest the child was rolled down slightly, which helped them get the child out. By that time the temperature inside the car was 110 degrees.
"Heat can build up very quickly within a car, even with the windows cracked," said Andrew Stevens, Deputy Director of Indianapolis EMS.
Stevens says it would only take a few minutes for the temperature to jump to 110 degrees. He said it’s a danger they try to stress to all parents, but it isn’t a problem that appears to be going away because it is already the third case in central Indiana this summer.
Joshua Stryzinski is accused of neglect of a dependent after reportedly forgetting that he left his 4-month-old daughter inside a hot car "for an extended period of time" on July 7th. She later died at the hospital.
On the same day, Meg Trueblood allegedly left her 16-month-old in a Fishers parking lot while she shopped inside. That child suffered a seizure and was taken to the hospital but survived. Trueblood has been charged with neglect of a dependent.
“It's a very sad phenomenon,” Stevens said. “Sometimes I think it might just be people's lack of knowledge about how quickly the heat can build up in the car and how dangerous this can be for children."
Pooja Thakkar's young daughter was treated and released to her father’s custody. Police aren't sure how long she was left inside, but friends say they believe it must have been a horrible mistake.
"Based on what I know about her, you know, there's no possible way that she would put her child in harm intentionally," Zalak Thakkar said.