Police: Dad leaves 4 kids in hot car while shoplifting

Published On: Jul 18 2013 04:29:12 AM HST

Police said Jeremiah Hollenbeck, 28, of Lebanon, Maine, left four children in a car Wednesday afternoon while he was allegedly shoplifting from a Family Dollar in Franklin.

A concerned citizen called the police to the parking lot around 4 p.m. as the temperature outside soared to 97 degrees. The children were in a Subaru with the windows rolled up for 10 to 15 minutes, police said.

“It’s probably 100 degrees in that car, I feel bad,” said Corey Rouse, a Family Dollar clerk. “They probably got heat exhaustion. It’s horrible.”

Rouse was working at the store and said Hollenbeck was inside the store for close to 10 minutes while the children -- 9-month-old twins, a 5-year-old and a 9-year-old -- were sweltering inside the car. The twins are Hollenbeck's kids, while he was the guardian of the other two children.

“He was looking around at some products and we looked outside and I guess he left his two infants and toddlers, there were four kids out in the blazing heat,” Rouse said.

Hollenbeck is now facing several charges, including four counts of endangering the welfare of a child, one count of receiving stolen property, and a felony level possession of a controlled narcotic.

Police were able to open the doors to the car and get the children out. The children were transported to a hospital for treatment for serious heat-related symptoms.

Fire officials said with the heat we have been experiencing, leaving children in a car for any period of time can be dangerous or even deadly, especially for infants.

“Young children and infants can’t compensate for the amount of heat that’s generated and stored inside a closed vehicle,” said Kevin LaChapelle, chief of the Franklin Fire Department. “Initially, they overheat and basically systems shut down.”

Hollenbeck was being held on $200,000 cash bail Wednesday night and is due in Franklin District Court on Thursday.

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