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Queens Couple Charged With Leaving 1-Year-Old Son Locked In Hot Car At Manhasset Mall

MANHASSET, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A Flushing couple was charged with reckless endangerment Wednesday after police say they left their baby locked inside a sweltering car.

It happened Tuesday in the afternoon heat at the luxury Americana Mall in Manhasset.

Police said 34-year-old Jingcai Zhou and 28-year-old Lu Lu parked their Mercedes in front of a high-end jewelry store and left their 1-year-old son asleep in a rear child seat.

Manhasset child locked in hot car
A Flushing couple was charged with reckless endangerment Wednesday after police say they left their baby locked inside a sweltering car. (Credit: Nassau County Police)

Witnesses noticed the boy was alone, crying and sweating, but were unable to open the door. They notified police, who found the child in distress.

"It was two civilians that saw this child, a 1-year-old left in a locked car. It wasn't running, no air conditioning. It was crucial to the survival of that child," Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said.

As CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported, the locked Mercedes has only one window open an inch. Police shattered it, rescuing the baby, who was red in the face, screaming and drenched in sweat.

"Nassau PD officers are heroes yet again, and I'm relieved that they were alerted in time to rescue the child. 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," Nassau County Executive Laura 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."

The parents returned to the car after shopping in the luxury stores. Witnesses say the mother voiced concerns about the car's broken window.

"The baby was left unattended in the hot car for 59 minutes ... Their answer was, 'Well, we checked on him every 25 minutes.' We all have, most of us have had children. You leave a 1-year-old child alone for 30 seconds, the world changes," Ryder said.

Zhou, a salesman, and Lu, a flight attendant, are charged with reckless endangerment and face possible removal of the child from their custody. They told police they set an alarm to check on their son every 25 minutes.

"I have a dog. I wouldn't leave it in a car that long," one man said.

"Never ever leave your child in a car. A car is not meant to be a babysitter," said Sue Auriemma, with Kids and Car Safety.

Auriemma says there's a misconception that leaving windows slightly open helps.

"The temperature inside a car, because of the greenhouse effect, can rise to deadly temperatures in under ten minutes even with the windows ajar," she said.

The baby, who was taken to a local hospital, is going to be alright.

The judge has issued an order of protection, which requires the couple take parenting classes and not put their child in further danger.

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