For the second time in three days, Anne Arundel County police say a child was left alone in a cold vehicle at the Arundel Mills complex in Hanover.
Police say a man left his 6-year-old grandson in the mall parking lot near Best Buy on Thursday as snow fell throughout the area.
"This is a snow-covered car. This is a cold car. This is 34 degrees with a snowstorm at that point. It was only getting colder," said police spokesman Lt. T.J. Smith.
The incident followed another case Tuesday in which a police say a Baltimore woman was arrested after she left her 4-year-old daughter alone in an SUV for 81/2 hours while she was inside Maryland Live casino at Arundel Mills.
In Thursday's incident, a shopper saw a child alone in a black Chrysler Town and Country minivan at 4:30 p.m. When the shopper returned at 6 p.m., the child was still in the car, so the shopper alerted an off-duty sheriff's deputy who was working security at the mall, police said. Police officers got the child out of the van and put him in a police car to stay warm.
Police and mall officials determined the vehicle had been parked at 4:29 p.m., and tried to find the owner.
About 7:30 p.m., the child's mother and grandfather showed up at the van. The grandfather said he had gone to pick up the child's mother and left the boy alone in the van. The van's hazard lights were blinking. The boy, who was cold and hungry but uninjured, was treated at Baltimore Washington Medical Center and was allowed to go home with his mother.
The grandfather, 47-year-old Juan Carlos Calva Diaz of the 8800 block of Flowerstock Row in Columbia, was charged with neglect of a minor and confining an unattended child under the age of 8.
Smith said it's against the law to leave a child younger than 8 alone in a home or vehicle. And it's against the law to leave any child in an unsafe situation.
"The law allows for a child over the age of 8 to be home alone or in a car alone, but it's also common sense," he said. Children should not be left alone in extreme heat or cold, without food or without a way to stay safe, he said.
Smith praised the bystander for speaking up.
"People think, 'Oh, I'm being nosy.' But think about the child. Alert someone, just so we can check," Smith said.
In the New Year's Eve case, a casino security worker spotted the 4-year-old girl crying in the car. She was cold and had wet herself. The girl's mother, Alicia D. Brown, 24, was arrested and charged with confining an unattended child, second-degree child abuse and neglect of a minor.