PHOENIX – A woman who left her nine-month and 23-month-old sons unattended in a parked van last August while she went shopping has been found guilty of felony child abuse. Amanda Hope Gomez-Vidal (D.O.B. 5/13/1985) told police she was away from the vehicle for five minutes. Video from a store surveillance system showed she was inside the store for 22 minutes. A meteorologist testified the temperature inside the vehicle would have been over 120 degrees at the time the children were found.
“This Defendant needlessly endangered the lives of her children by placing them in a circumstance that could easily have killed them,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “Despite extensive efforts by our office and other agencies to warn people against leaving children unattended in a hot car, it seems some people simply haven’t gotten the message.”
At around 6:00 p.m. on August 13, 2014, Mesa Police responded to a call at a Party City store on Stapley Drive. A passerby had noticed two young children alone in a van in the parking lot with the windows rolled up. Both were red in the face and sweating profusely. According to the National Weather Service, the temperature at the time was 94 degrees. Seeing the children in obvious distress inside the van, the responding officer was about to break the vehicle’s window with his flashlight when he noticed Amanda Gomez-Vidal approaching. The officer later testified that after determining Gomez-Vidal was the owner of the van he had to yell at her repeatedly to immediately unlock the vehicle. She subsequently told police she was in the store for five minutes and that she knew she had left the children alone in the vehicle with no air conditioning during extreme heat conditions. She had no water or bottles for her children.
First responders from Mesa Fire arrived and treated the children. They determined the children had not sustained serious injuries and did not need to be transported to the hospital. Gomez-Vidal was arrested at the scene and subsequently indicted on two counts of child abuse, a class 3 felony and domestic violence offense. She rejected an offer to resolve the case by pleading guilty to a lower level of offense and completing a term of probation. She is scheduled to be sentenced on November 18, 2015.