published Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Ooltewah woman faces child neglect charge

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — An Ooltewah woman is facing a charge of child abuse and neglect after an eyewitness called police about a child left alone in a vehicle.

Danielle Marie Lucas, 23, has a Nov. 20 hearing date set in Bradley County Criminal Court, court clerk's office records show.

According to a report by Cleveland Police Department Officer Jennifer McGuire, the incident happened Monday in front of the local Social Security office on Inman Street.

Lucas told officers, according to the report, that her small son was not feeling well and asleep in his car seat. So she took her infant daughter with her, went into the Social Security office and left the boy in her Chevrolet Suburban. She expected to be inside only a few minutes, the report states.

The witness told police she was sitting in her vehicle, waiting on her mother, who was inside the Social Security office, when the Suburban parked next to her in the lot. Fifteen minutes later, according to the report, the woman heard a child crying in the vehicle.

The witness said she checked on the boy, found the Suburban's door unlocked and called police. From the time of the call until Lucas was found another 10 minutes elapsed, the police report states.

"I was standing outside with the child with the door open to her vehicle for at least five minutes before [Lucas] was located," Officer McGuire reported. "She was not watching the vehicle to make sure the child was safe during that time."

Lucas could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

The case was referred to the Tennessee Department of Child Services. Lucas' husband was called to the scene to take the children.

Lucas was taken to the Bradley County Justice Center and booked on one count of child abuse and neglect, according to jail records. She was released about three hours later, records show.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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