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Cops had a van towed — but a 4-year-old was inside and spent a freezing night alone

A Milwaukee 4-year-old spent the night in an impounded van after police didn’t notice her inside it. The driver was arrested on suspicion of DUI. The girl was discovered in the morning upset and crying, police say.
A Milwaukee 4-year-old spent the night in an impounded van after police didn’t notice her inside it. The driver was arrested on suspicion of DUI. The girl was discovered in the morning upset and crying, police say. TMJ4 Broadcast/Screenshot

Officials say a 4-year-old girl spent a lonely night in the back of an impounded van after it was towed and left with her inside, Fox 6 reported.

It was an “unfortunate situation,” Milwaukee city engineer Jeff Polenske said at a news conference. “Apparently the girl was very upset and crying, something that none of us would like to have happen to any of our children.”

Milwaukee police said they pulled the driver over around midnight after becoming suspicious that she was driving while intoxicated, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The driver was arrested, and an infant was taken out of the car, but the 4-year-old remained unnoticed in the back, the paper reported. The van was towed to the city’s impound lot and left for about eight hours.

The temperature that night was well below freezing, according to data from the National Weather Service.

Polenske said a public works employee searched the van when it arrived at the lot by walking around it and shining a light inside, but did not notice the girl, TMJ4 reported.

She was discovered in the morning at around 8:30 when she was heard crying, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Police and firefighters were called to make sure she was OK, Polenske said at the news conference. Other than being “very upset,” she seemed OK, he said, and she was transferred to the hospital as a precaution.

Family members said the girl has been asleep in the back, Fox 6 reported.

“I’m frustrated right now because I’m trying to figure out why the whole van wasn’t searched,” the child’ great aunt Dynasty Davis said, according to the station. “I couldn’t even understand myself lasting that long. All those hours.”

Milwaukee police said they were pursuing charges against the driver, according to TMJ4.

“The Milwaukee Police Department is grateful that the child was located unharmed. MPD is currently seeking criminal charges against the driver who was arrested for Operating While Intoxicated,” the department said, according to the station. “We will provide additional information in the upcoming days regarding this investigation.”

Polenske said at the news conference that the Public Works Department was reviewing its protocols to see about adding a “more thorough review” of vehicles.

KidsAndCars.org teamed up with the Fort Bend County, TX law enforcement organizations to launch a new ‘Look Before You Lock’ PSA video for TV and billboard campaign. The campaign is focused on preventing children from dying in hot cars.

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