Mom Accused of Leaving Baby in Car Had Criminal Past

Mother accused of leaving 4-month-old baby strapped inside car in National City

By Lauren Steussy and Paul Krueger
|  Thursday, Jul 26, 2012  |  Updated 3:50 PM PDT
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Baby Found Unconscious in Sweltering Car

This surveillance image shows police pulled up to Geart's car in the National City parking lot with a child's car seat taken from the car.

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Baby Found Unconscious in Sweltering Car

A mother in National City was arrested on Tuesday after leaving her baby strapped inside her car while she shopped. NBC 7 reporter Diana Guevara spoke to witnesses of the incident.
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A mother facing child neglect charges after police said she left her baby in a sweltering car has a criminal record, court documents show.

Starley Geart, 25, was arrested Tuesday after a maintenance worker noticed the baby in an unconscious state, soaked in sweat from sitting in the direct sunlight, according to National City Police Sgt. Julian Villagomez.

Court records show that the incident is not Geart's first encounter with police. In 2009, she pleaded guilty and received three years of probation for petty theft. In 2010, she was charged with a drug-related infraction.

Geart has another child, but authorities could not say where the child was at the time of her arrest.

Surveillance footage showed Geart, leave the car in the East Plaza Boulevard shopping center at about 3 p.m. for about 10 minutes while shopping at a clothing store nearby.

When police and fire personnel responded, they broke into the car through the window to rescue the baby. The baby was revived and taken to Rady Children's Hospital.

National City police said the baby is okay now and in the care of the Polinsky Children's Center. Child Protective Services has taken over care of the baby.

One expert in child welfare law said if CPS is called to handle a case like this, agents take care of the child immediately, and look for an alternate parent to give the child to. If that parent is not suitable, another family member usually takes the child.

Police told NBC 7 that they are having difficulty locating the father.

Authorities could not say whether Child Protective Services would also take Geart's other child.

Geart told police she only left the baby for a minute. Surveillance footage shows 10 minutes elapsing before police arrived and she came out of the store to address them.

Witnesses described Geart's reaction upon finding out about her child's condition as nonchalant.

"She wasn’t sad or crying or anything," one witness said. "It didn’t even bother her. I don’t know how a parent can be like that."

Highs in National City on Tuesday reached about 75 degrees, but firefighters said the temperature inside the car could have gotten as high as 140 degrees.

Geart was booked into jail on child endangerment charges. She has since been released.

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