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Dad arrested after children left in hot car

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For the third time since late May, Columbus police were called to rescue children left alone in a vehicle during hot temperatures.

Columbus police officers found a 7-year-old and an infant in a locked vehicle early Saturday evening in the Kroger supermarket parking lot, 3110 N. National Road. Temperatures Saturday were in the mid- to high 80s.

Columbus police arrested the children’s father, James S. Drechsel, 39, 5150 Hartford Ave., on two preliminary charges of child neglect, a Class D felony.

After arriving within three minutes after the 6:40 p.m. 911 call, officers were told by a witness in the parking lot that the children had been in the vehicle for more than 10 minutes, police department spokesman Lt. Matt Myers said.

As police made several attempts to get into the locked vehicle, they could see the 7-year-old was upset and screaming, Myers said. After officers got the car door open, paramedics checked out both children, who were not injured, Myers said. An investigator measured the temperature in the vehicle at 92.5 degrees.

When Drechsel showed up with two other children, ages 4 and 6, he said he left the children inside with cracked windows and an open sun roof because the 7-year-old had left his shoes at home, a police department release stated.

While the father said he had been gone only a few minutes, at least 15 minutes were accounted for by the officers, Myers said.

“This act was irresponsible, irregardless of the time,” Myers said. “They could have been abducted by a predator, escaped the vehicle and gotten run over or had a medical emergency with no one to help them.”

Police contacted the mother to take custody of the children, Myers said.

Child Protective Services was notified during the investigation, he said.

Drechsel was taken to the Bartholomew County Jail and released within a few hours on a $1,000 cash bond, jail personnel said.

The office of Bartholomew County Prosecutor Bill Nash will determine what charges, if any, to file. If convicted on the preliminary charges, Drechsel could face one to six years in prison, as well as fines of up to $20,000.

On May 26, Columbus police rescued a 5-year-old from an SUV at the Walmart at 735 Whitfield Drive. On June 19, Columbus police rescued a 2-year-old boy from a car at FairOaks Mall.

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