VALLEY STREAM, Long Island (WABC) -- A woman from Queens was arrested in Valley Stream on Tuesday after police say she left her two children in a car.
The incident was reported in parking lot at the Green Acres Mall around 4:20 p.m.
Police say a witness called for help after seeing two young children alone in a car. Officers arrived to find a 1-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl inside the unlocked vehicle with the engine running.
Officers were able to get into the car through the unlocked door. Both children were taken to a local hospital for evaluation.
Authorities determined the mother of the children, 25-year-old Lotanna Adjaero from St. Albans, was responsible for leaving her children and was placed under arrest.
The registered nurse who works as a home health aide is charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
Adjaero left the courthouse Wednesday after hearing stern words from the judge.
Prosecutors said both children were dehydrated and disoriented after being left in the car for about 45 minutes.
"All the windows were rolled up. Somehow, in the process the children turned on the heat in the car, so the heat was actually going in the vehicle when the police officers got there, not the air conditioning," Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said.
The two kids were placed into the custody of a family member.
On Wednesday, some shoppers at the mall in Valley Stream held on tight to their own kids. Some cringed as they pondered what could have been.
"Cause they could get roasted," shopper Douglas Lyn said. "You don't want to get roasted in 100-degree degree weather in a car."
Advocates say, on average, 38 children in the U.S. die from being left in hot cars each year. So far this year, 24 have died nationwide.
This case is all the more shocking because Adjaero is a registered nurse, and while she has no prior history of crime, during these hot temperatures especially, there are no excuses, police say.
"You're not distracted leaving a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old in a car," Ryder said. "She just abandoned them for whatever reason to go shopping in that mall."