Video captured confrontation after toddler, younger boy left in automobile; Girl taken into custody
UPDATE (10.30 p.m.): The Kern County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that the woman featured on the video has been taken into custody and jailed for a crime of willful cruelty to a child.
The woman, identified as Melissa Medel, 38, was taken into custody Thursday night after MPs and child protection services contacted her at a motel on the 8200 block on East Brundage Lane.
The child protection service took on custody of a 3-year-old and a 1-month-old boy.
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – As she approached the van, Mayra Law was shocked by what she saw: a toddler and boy who showed up in the van about three years later.
“My heart just fell,” Law told 17 News. “How could anyone do something like that and lock children in the vehicle with the windows fully open and leave no one in with her and just walk away? And when I checked my cell phone yesterday, it was like 100 degrees. “
Law, mother of a young girl and currently eight months pregnant, said her maternal instincts kicked in and she started recording on her cell phone. She said she wanted evidence that could be shown to the authorities.
In the video, which garnered more than 16,000 views on Facebook, Law and others gather around the silver minivan parked outside FoodMaxx on Niles Street Wednesday afternoon. Someone asks if they should break a window. Then the boy unlocks the doors.
Law said the keys were in the ignition and the air conditioning was on, but it was warm inside. She said a blanket covered the baby’s face when he was unbuckled.
State law requires a parent or guardian not to leave a child under the age of 6 in a vehicle with the engine running or the key in the ignition unless someone 12 years or older is with them.
Before they could remove the children, a woman in a black tank top and shorts approached the van. Law said the woman swore as she approached them.
In the video someone can be heard telling the woman: “Your baby is not buckled up.”
The woman replies: “(Sword) giving a (Sword) (Sword).”
The video then shows the woman quickly approaching the camera and the recording ends.
Law said she turned off the camera and got ready to defend herself when the woman charged her. Other people intervened, she said.
They tried to keep the woman there until the MPs arrived, but the woman jumped into the van, turned around, and sped out of the parking lot, Law said. She said she and others almost got hit when the van reversed.
Previously, a buyer told FoodMaxx employees that the boy was walking around the parking lot alone. The woman who was in the store at the time went outside and pulled the boy’s hair back to the van, Law said.
Then the woman went back to the store. A moment later, Law walked towards the van, she said.
Attempts to reach the woman on Wednesday were unsuccessful.
Lt. The sheriff’s Joel Swanson said an investigation was ongoing. He said the woman in the video had not been identified and it was unclear whether she was the children’s mother or a caregiver.
Law said someone would have to intervene if the woman was unable to look after the children. Aside from the heat risk, someone could have stolen the van, she said.
“It broke my heart to know she left two kids in there and it could have been worse than the situation,” she said.