NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Police have not charged anyone after three children were found in an SUV that was towed from Algiers to Canal Street on Monday.
The car, which was parked illegally and blocking another parked car at a west bank apartment complex, was towed around 6 p.m., according to tow truck driver Phillip Spencer.
When Spencer got back to the Canal Street lot of Mid-City Towing, he noticed something strange inside.
"I notice there was a flash, like a phone, like it was ringing," Spencer said. "Then I looked into the windshield. Looking through, I could see movement and I could see a little baby inside. And I said, 'oh my God, they've got a baby in the car!' So I went on ahead and called 911 immediately."
Spencer said he was on the east bank when he got the call that the car needed to be towed. Police said the mother left the children alone for just two minutes.
"It takes me about 12 minutes to get to the west bank, so she's saying she was two minutes," Spencer said. "It took me 12 minutes to get there, I went through the apartment complex, I took pictures, it took me about four or five minutes. So 12 minutes plus five, it took me about 17 minutes, and the kids have been sitting there that whole time."
Police said three children were in the car: a 6-year old, a 4-year old, and a 7-month old baby. State law forbids anyone from leaving a child under the age of 6 unattended in a car for any amount of time, and children are only considered supervised if someone older than 10 is in the car with them.
"I don't care if you leave them in the car for three minutes, you don't leave your kids in the car," Spencer said. "Anything could've happened."
After the incident, police released the three children back to their mother, loading them into a police unit that wasn't properly equipped to transport children.
A police spokesperson said: "In an attempt to help this family return home as quickly as possible, the officer offered to transport the mother and her children in his police unit. The officer took special precautions to ensure the safety of everyone in the vehicle."
However, at least one officer on scene noted that the car was not designed to accept car seats or transport children telling a reporter, "I'm definitely worried about the child's safety," as the police SUV drove away.
When asked why the mother was not charged with violating Louisiana law after admitting to leaving her children in the car unattended, an NOPD police spokesman said, "That's not the way investigations work." The spokesman added that the Child Abuse Unit is investigating the incident.