The District Attorney’s Office has declined to file criminal charges against a woman who left her two-year-old child in a car that caught fire in February, instead calling it a “mistake in judgment” that didn’t amount to a criminal act. City fire responded to the 1300 block of Santa Teresita Drive to find a Dodge minivan engulfed in flames which had spread to nearby bushes. A subsequent investigation showed the woman had left the child strapped in a car seat while she went inside a nearby residence. Not long after, she saw smoke outside, ran to the car, and found it on fire. Investigators never determined the cause of the blaze.
The woman was able to get the child out of the car seat, authorities said, but not before both were burned. The child suffered second- and third-degree burns to her face and body and was transferred to the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital. The mother had minor injuries. Both are now home.
The DA’s office went through a detailed review of the case, according to a press release Tuesday morning, as well as the law relating to child endangerment. While leaving a child unattended in a vehicle can lead to prosecution in some situations, DA officials determined this did not warrant it. A person must have acted with criminal negligence — that is, they acted with more than ordinary carelessness, inattention, or mistake in judgment — for there to be child endangerment.