Couple accused of leaving 1-year-old child in car at Americana Manhasset

A couple from Flushing was arrested on Tuesday after leaving their child in a car at the Americana for an hour, according to police. (Photo courtesy of the Nassau County Police Department)

A couple that left a 1-year-old child in a car at the Americana Manhasset while they shopped for an hour on Tuesday were arrested that afternoon, police said.

Officials said 34-year-old Jingcai Zhou and 28-year-old Lu Lu of Flushing, Queens parked their 2019 Mercedes Benz in the Americana’s parking lot, leaving their toddler asleep in the back seat.

After the two went into the mall, a woman noticed that the child was alone in the back seat crying and sweating, according to the Nassau County Police Department.

Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, in a Wednesday press conference, said the vehicle was locked and not running, and one window was open about an inch. The woman called the police after trying to open the door, cops said. Officials said a 51-year-old man came along and tried to use a lock-out kit to enter the vehicle but could not do so.

Officials arrived at the scene around 2 p.m., when police were finally able to open the car window after an officer broke the driver-side window using the punch feature on a department-issued knife, Ryder said. Police reportedly safely removed the child from the car and brought him into an air-conditioned store to cool him off.

The child was taken to a nearby hospital for further evaluation, when officials determined he was in the vehicle for an hour. Officials said the couple set a 25-minute timer to come out of the store and check on the child still sleeping, returning to the car twice before officials came.

Zhou and Lu were charged with first-degree reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child, police said. According to multiple reports, the two were arraigned on Wednesday at the First District Court in Hempstead and released without bail, but required to attend parenting classes.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran touted the efforts of the police and the two individuals who tried to help the child out of the car.

“It doesn’t take a long time for a car to reach deadly hot temperatures on an 80 degree day, and it takes even less time for there to be risk of heat stroke for children,” Curran said in a statement. “Never leave young children alone in cars — even for a quick errand — even with the window cracked — even if you think it’s not that warm. If you see a child alone in a hot car, the right thing to do is call 911 immediately.”

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Robert Pelaez

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