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Probation for York mom who left tot in hot car at Red Lion park

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

A York City woman has been sentenced to probation for leaving her 2-year-old child in a locked car at Red Lion's Fairmount Park last summer.

Jackmary Velez-Diaz appeared Monday, Nov. 5, in York County Court, where she pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment, according to senior deputy prosecutor John Hamme.

In exchange for her plea, charges of child endangerment and leaving a child unattended in a vehicle were dismissed, he said.

Children play at the Splash Pad in Red Lion, Friday, August 12, 2016. John A. Pavoncello photo

Velez-Diaz, 27, of East South Street, was sentenced to two years' probation and ordered to take parenting classes, which she has already completed, according to Hamme.

She also was sentenced to an additional year of probation after pleading guilty in an unrelated case to selling marijuana, the prosecutor said.

"It was less than an ounce," Hamme said, and he noted that Velez-Diaz wasn't a drug trafficker. She would use marijuana and sell some of it if someone she knew needed some, he said.

The background: Velez-Diaz took her children to Red Lion's Splash Pad in Fairmount Park on June 13, a day that reached about 80 degrees and was very humid, state police have said.

A friend of Velez-Diaz's drove them to the park, and Velez-Diaz thought the friend was getting all the kids out of the car but didn't check to make sure, according to defense attorney Rick Robinson.

"She was tending to her (newborn) baby, who was crying," Robinson said of Velez-Diaz. "She didn't do a proper head count."

The 2-year-old was inside the car for just a short time when someone spotted him and called police, according to Robinson. The tot was fine, he said.

"She felt horrible about it," Robinson said of his client. "She's a good mom and a good person. This was an unfortunate circumstance."

Jackmary Velez-Diaz

Remorseful: Hamme agreed Velez-Diaz was remorseful and that she had been distracted because her newborn was crying.

The York County Office of Children, Youth and Families investigated the incident and later closed the case, having determined Velez-Diaz was not a threat to her children, according to Robinson.

Velez-Diaz was under a pavilion, about 100 yards from the car that her toddler was locked in, state police have said.

She returned to the car about five minutes after a state trooper and a passing York County sheriff's deputy freed the child, police said.

Between January and September 2018, 48 children died after being left in hot cars, according to the National Safety Council.

On average, 37 children die each year from pediatric vehicular heatstroke, according to the council, which is a nonprofit organization that works to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and in communities.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.