Media attention from the Justin Ross Harris case has placed citizens on high alert for children stuck in hot cars—and shoppers at a strip mall in Katy, Texas, are the latest to come to the rescue. The group smashed in a car window yesterday to free two young children trapped inside a Jeep as temperatures outside rose into the 90s, but contrary to KHOU's initial report, this wasn't an instance of neglect. KHOU initially spoke with Gabriel Del Valle, who shot a video on his smartphone showing at least four people trying to free the boy and girl from the car and indicated that the mother had left them there while getting a haircut. KHOU now talks to other witnesses who say the mother accidentally locked her kids in the car after finishing her shopping—with kids in tow—and pleaded with other shoppers for help.
The owner of a postal store says he has surveillance video that proves the kids were with the mom in his store and all exited together. Further, KHOU spoke with the mother, who said that her insurance company told her it would take two hours to get someone to the scene to open the doors. At that point she reportedly returned to the store asking for help, per the video; a hammer in the store was used to bust the window, and the mother then enters the car through the broken window. Del Valle refused to be interviewed a second time by KHOU. (Meanwhile, a toddler managed to save an elderly man who was stuck in his hot car.)