Norman mom faces child neglect, drug charges after 9-year-old left in hot car

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NORMAN, Okla. - A Norman woman is facing child neglect and drug charges after police said she left her 9-year-old in the car for more than an hour in the sun.

A bystander called police after seeing the child in the car of the Lowe's parking lot in Norman.

"We just found a kid that was in the car, and the car off," the bystander told the dispatcher.

He said he believed the kid to be in the car for at least an hour. When he felt the boy's skin, he described it as very hot.

The affidavit states temperatures surpassed 90 degrees that day and the boy was covered in sweat.

EMSTAT Chief Eddie Sims said temperatures in a vehicle will quickly soar.

"If it's 80 degrees outside on a sunny day and you've got a car with the windows rolled up, the temperature inside might be 110," Sims said. "If it's 100 outside, it might be 140."

Sims explained  children don't have the same heat-coping mechanisms as adults.

"They may get sick to their stomach, they may get dizzy and, if this progresses, they're going to actually shut down their cooling system at which time they can start having brain damage," Sims said. "Their skin will get hot, they can get unresponsive and they can have seizures."

When officers arrived, they tracked down the mother, Sheilah Johnson.

The affidavit states Johnson told officers she believed the boy could have come into the store to get her but she also conceded she knew he was barefoot.

She also said she did not know how long she had been in the store.

Officers also reported Johnson's speech was slurred and her movements slow and sluggish. They later discovered marijuana in her purse.

EMSA dispatch Captain Mel Spruill said, if a bystander is in doubt about how long a child or animal has been locked in a car, they should always make the call to first responders.

"If they don't see someone coming out in a minute or two, I think they should go ahead and call," Spruill said. "If they're wrong and the parent comes out, then that's fine. But, you don't want to wait too long to get to that point."

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