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Judge fines mother who left children in hot car

The Amherst mother who left four young children in an overheated minivan while she shopped must pay a fine and attend counseling sessions, an Amherst town judge ordered Tuesday.

Tiffany Adams, 32, pleaded guilty in Amherst Town Court to a single, reduced charge of attempted endangerment of the welfare of a child after leaving her four children -- ages 1 to 5 -- parked in the Transit Road Target parking lot on an 87-degree day.

Police said Adams went to the store at Transit near Maple Road about noon on July 7. A customer saw the children and notified Target
employees, who contacted Amherst police.

The youngsters had been left in the minivan for at least 14 minutes, police said, and only the rear side windows were cracked open.

All the children were taken to Women and Children's Hospital for evaluation, but none had serious medical problems.

Though Adams initially had been charged with four counts of endangering the welfare of a child, Town Justice Mark Farrell gave her a conditional discharge for her guilty plea to the reduced attempted endangerment charge, said Court Administrator James Loughran.

Farrell also ordered Adams to attend parent counseling sessions and pay a $205 fine, Loughran said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated that about 25 children a year die as a result of being left or becoming trapped in hot vehicles. Children 4 and under are at particular risk for death in such circumstances.

Fourteen states have laws prohibiting leaving children unattended in a vehicle. Nine others, including New York, have proposed legislation to criminalize the act.

e-mail: stan@buffnews.com

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