Woman Is Arrested After Infant Locked in Hot SUV Was Rescued by Firefighters and Off-Duty Nurse


Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.

Whenever you hear a sad story about a child or pet being left in a hot car, it’s easy to jump to conclusions and assume their guardians are just bad people — but even good parents can find themselves at fault for forgetting to check the back seat.

And then there are cases that seem like more clear-cut instances of horrible parenting, which this case appears to be.

On June 13, someone at a Kroger in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, noticed a woman standing next to an SUV and acting strangely in the parking lot. The good Samaritan told a store employee, who called police and requested a welfare check.

“An officer responded and found the woman, 27-year-old Alexandria Lee, standing outside the locked SUV, swaying to keep her balance, and appearing to be spaced out,” a Facebook post by the Murfreesboro Fire Rescue Department (MFRD) stated.

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But that wasn’t the worst of it.

When authorities arrived, they said a baby was inside the locked SUV. She was strapped into a car seat with a blanket on her, was sweating and barely breathing, and it was 5:16 p.m. and 97 degrees outside.

“The SUV was not running, and the infant had been inside the hot car for about 20 minutes,” said MFRD Engine 9 Firefighter Tyson Donaldson.

“Our number one priority was to get the baby out of the hot car as soon as possible.”

Firefighters broke the window and retrieved the baby, who was 5 weeks old, and quickly moved her to an officer’s patrol car to cool down in the air conditioning.

Thankfully, an off-duty Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurse was nearby, spotted the commotion, and quickly offered her services.

“Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital NICU off-duty nurse Melissa Nicholson approached and offered her assistance,” the MFRD Facebook post said.

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“Nurse Nicholson helped firefighters perform other medical care on the infant, which was invaluable in keeping the baby alive until personnel with Rutherford County Emergency Medical Services arrived and took over care.”

Authorities said the infant was cared for at the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery, thanks to the first responders and the nurse.

“The outside temperature was 97 degrees at the time with a heat index of 108 degrees,” Donaldson said in the MFRD post.

“Without a doubt, the beautiful baby is still on this earth thanks (to) concerned citizens, emergency personnel and the off-duty nurse.”

In addition to Lee’s odd behavior, an opened half-bottle of tequila was found in her car, police said. She was arrested and charged with aggravated child neglect/abuse and driving under the influence and was held on a $51,500 bond at the Rutherford County Adult Detention Center.

It was a mercy that the good Samaritan was observant and said something that resulted in the rescue of the innocent baby.

“We want to remind parents not to leave children or animals unattended in a hot car,” Murfreesboro Fire Rescue Department official Jeff Wright said in the Facebook post.

“It is not only dangerous, but potentially deadly with the extreme temperatures we’ve been experiencing.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking