09/28/11 — Mother leaves baby in vehicle

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Mother leaves baby in vehicle

By Steve Herring
Published in News on September 28, 2011 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- A 13-month-old baby early Tuesday morning was found left alone in an unlocked car in which the keys had been left in the ignition.

The baby was in an unsecured car seat in the back seat of the car, police said.

Police received a call around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday that the baby had been left in a car parked in the parking lot at the Henderson Building on the Mount Olive College campus.

A college security officer was on the scene when police arrived and told officers she had found the baby about 8:30 a.m. and had been unable to locate a parent or guardian.

The baby's' mother, Tiffaun Diane Herring, 31, of Newton Grove, returned to the car about an hour later. Ms. Herring, a part-time student, told officers she had left the baby in car while she had gone to the library to do a research paper.

Ms. Herring was taken to the police station where she was charged with misdemeanor child endangerment and released.

The baby had been in the car for about 15 to 30 minutes before police arrived, police Chief Brian Rhodes said.

The baby appeared to be fine and the Department of Social Services was called, he said.

Fortunately it was early in the morning and because of cooler temperatures the interior of the vehicle had not gotten hot, he added.

"It could have been very tragic if it had been a month earlier," Rhodes said. "We are very fortunate it turned out the way that it did."

The baby was taken to the police station where an employee went shopping for baby formula, a bottle and baby food. Another employee held the child to soothe her when she cried.

DSS workers ensured the safety of the baby and released her to the custody of relatives and not the mother, said Debbie Jones, Wayne County DSS director.

Since the family is from Sampson County that county's DSS office will be in charge of any follow-up, she said.