Grandma Charged for Leaving Kids in Hot Car

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ANDOVER, Ohio -- Child endangering charges have been filed in Eastern County Court after an Ashtabula County woman was cited for leaving three of her grandchildren in a hot vehicle.

Cher Leonard, 41, was charged following the alleged incident at the Pymatuning Drive-In Flea Market on Saturday.  According to Sheriff Billy Johnson, an unidentified man spotted and rescued the kids, ages 9, 3 and 1, before calling authorities.  All three children were sweating and hot to the touch, according to the sheriff.

“In this particular case, we’re fortunate -- and the grandma is fortunate -- that there wasn't a tragedy here,” said Sheriff Johnson.  “We see it throughout the world, where people just don’t use good common sense.  But being a grandmother, being a mother, being a father, we’re responsible and we have to be culpable for them kinda actions.”

According to a vendor at the market who doesn’t want to be identified, Leonard said she only left the children for a few minutes. 

“It was a hot day though, it was over a hundred here,” said the vendor.  “Five minutes in the car, that's all it takes really, I guess.”

Gary White works at the market and was also nearby when Leonard returned to her vehicle where people were waiting. 

“She said the car was cool enough because the air conditioning had been running, but she had turned the car off and you know, it’s like (fingers snap) that quick, it’s hot,” said White.  “97 degrees! You don’t leave them, not even for just 30 seconds, it’s just silly, it really is.”

According to Ashtabula County Children Services, the three children are now in foster care pending an investigation.  They were previously removed from the custody of their mother citing unclean living conditions.

Leonard will be arraigned on July 26 in Jefferson.