Rochester, N.Y. - The mother of the 6-year-old boy who went for a wild ride when his father's car was stolen (he was asleep in the back seat) is grateful her son is okay and relieved he doesn't remember what happened.
But questions now have been raised about why the father of the child, 26-year-old Phillip Owens, has been charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Child.
I am not a police officer or a lawyer. But I do know that I too, would be charged with the same misdemeanor crime, if I left my child in a car, while I ran in the store.
It is the law. In fact, it is against the law in the city of Rochester, to leave an unattended car running, with or without anyone inside.
I respect City Council Member Adam McFadden. He has always fought hard for what he believes in, even when it involves controversial issues.
I do understand why the Councilman has questioned the attention given to the father in this case, versus the suspect who stole the car.
McFadden questions why the father is charged, and the suspect is still at-large.
Rochester Police tell us they have leads on the suspect and have information they need to track him down. They expect to find him soon.
But they also remind us that what happened could have had a very different ending.
In this case, police tracked the stolen car Saturday night using a cell phone left in the vehicle.
The car was abandoned on Garson Avenue. They found the 6-year-old asleep in the back seat.
Phillip Owens told police he only ran in the store for a few minutes and left the child because he was sleeping. But the car was running, the keys were in the ignition, and the doors unlocked.
That's a tragedy waiting to happen.
As a mother of three, I remember how hard it was to pack them all in their car seats and head out to the store, doctor's office or school.
Sure the temptation is there to leave them in the car, to avoid the tantrums in the store or their many requests to buy them something.
I have been there. But I never left them alone in the car. I brought them in with me and tried to shop or do my errands as quickly as possible.
As parents, it is our choice to have children and it is our responsibility to make sure they are healthy and safe.
On Twitter, one person wondered if a parent would be charged if they left their child alone in the yard playing and someone snatched them?
I don't know the answer and I don't know how I feel about that.
I know when my children were young, I was paranoid about things like this and
probably followed them around too much.
But it is our responsibility to care for our children. Yes, the father who did this probably did not expect someone to steal his car with his son inside.
But with the car running, and doors unlocked, it was an invitation a thief couldn't refuse.
Did the suspect realize there was a sleeping child in the backseat?
I don't know. Did he abandon the car because he realized the child was there and he could be charged with kidnapping?
That's something police will hopefully learn once the suspect is caught.
I met the boy and his mother. He is precious and unaware of what happened.
She asked that we not talk to him about it, fearing it would traumatize him.
She is a good mother and while she says the child's father made a mistake,
she doesn't blame him for what happened. If anything, she says he was ignorant.
She also questions why he is charged with a crime. But she also told us she hopes this will be a wake up call for other parents.
In her words: "I hope they realize that this can happen...don't leave your kids in the car...ever."