Woman left baby in hot car while she drank in restaurant, deputies say

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ARLINGTON, Tenn. — A woman was arrested after she allegedly left her child in a hot car in the parking lot of a restaurant, authorities said.

It happened Tuesday, which also happened to be National Tequila Day.

Shelby County deputies responded to the scene after getting a call for a welfare check. Two customers said they heard a baby crying as they were walking through the parking lot.

"When you walk outside you don't expect to hear a baby in a car and when you do, immediately as a parent, you perk up," said one man, who did not want to be identified.

He and his wife were leaving dinner at Cazadores Mexican Grill at about 7 p.m. when they spotted a girl, they believe about 6 months old, alone in a vehicle that was not running. A window was partially rolled down.

"The child was hot. We could tell that she was sweating but we knew she wasn't in immediate danger yet," the witness said.

The car that the child was in was unlocked.

Shelby County Sheriff deputies and first responders showed up a short time later. Deputies said it was 92 degrees outside when they arrived on the scene. The baby was immediately removed from the vehicle and given medical treatment.

Police said the baby's mother, identified as Rachel Vanwagner, ran out of the restaurant with no shoes on after noticing their presence.

She told deputies she knew she left her child in the car while it wasn't running, but she was only in the restaurant for 30 minutes and had one drink. The witnesses said they'd seen Vanwagner inside the restaurant drinking a margarita.

The 26-year-old Mason, Tenn., resident was arrested and charged with child abuse and neglect.

The baby is OK and is now with relatives. The Department of Child Services has been notified about the case.

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