A Cicero woman is accused of leaving her five children alone in a cold van twice Sunday night on the West Side after she and her husband ran out of gas, police said.
Erica A. Torres, 27, of the 4800 block of 23rd Street in Cicero, was charged with five counts of misdemeanor child endangerment, police said. The children's father was released without being charged, police said. Torres is expected in court today on the accusations.
Officers responded to a 911 call made by a Good Samaritan at 5:40 p.m. Sunday regarding a child left alone inside a vehicle parked in the 3100 block of West Fulton Street in the East Garfield Park neighborhood. The caller told police she'd seen a woman leave the van about 2 p.m.
When police got there, they found five children, ages 2 to 9, inside a stopped van with no gas, heat or adult supervision, according to a police report. Torres showed up while officers were on the scene and controlled the situation before police left her and the children at the scene, the report said. The temperature at Midway International Airport, about 9 miles south, was 29 degrees and falling at that time, according to the National Weather Service.
The same Good Samaritan called 911 again at 7:45 p.m. after seeing Torres leave them alone a second time about 7 p.m., the report said. The temperature at the time of the second call was about 22 at Midway, according to the weather service.
This time, officers went back, placed the children into their squad car, and took them into the station for their protection. The children told police that their father left them to go find fuel for the van and that their mother left them alone to search for their father, the report said.
While on the way to the station at 8:40 p.m., police saw the children's father walking eastbound on Washington from Sacramento boulevard carrying a gas can and stopped him. He told the officers he'd run out of gas and was looking for his van, according to the report. He was placed into custody.
About that time, dispatchers received a 911 call from Torres, who seemed to be lost and disoriented. She reported her kids were missing from the van she had left at Chicago and Kedzie avenues, nearly a mile from where the van was located, after she left them and walked into a gas station to buy chips. She also told officers her van was missing.
Torres was arrested at 10:05 p.m. Sunday in the 600 block of North Kedzie Avenue and her husband was released without any charges.
The children were taken to Rush University Medical Center where they were listed in good condition, and doctors told police they had not suffered any cold-related injuries. They were released into the care of another family member and DCFS was notified, the report said.
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