Baby found in hot car; mom charged

Brienne D. Shaneyfelt, 20, of Goose Creek, is accused of leaving her 17-month-old in a car parked outside Walmart for 23 minutes on Friday. Police also charged her with possession of drug paraphernalia.

GOOSE CREEK -- Had she not dropped her keys in the middle of the Walmart parking lot, Tammy Hooper would probably have never noticed the 17-month-old child sweating in the back seat of a parked Dodge Neon.

The mother of five from Moncks Corner waved to the girl as she sat in the backseat of the car, drinking from a cup.

"I looked up to tell the parents what a cute baby they have, but when I looked around, there was no parent," Hooper said.

Hooper said she quickly realized something was wrong. It was about 11:45 a.m. Friday and the temperature was 91 degrees, according to a police report. The car wasn't running, the air conditioning wasn't on and the girl's brown hair was sticking to her forehead. The windows were rolled down about 2 1/2 inches, Hooper said.

"I wouldn't even leave my dog in the car in those conditions, much less a child," Hooper said.

Goose Creek police charged the child's mother, 20-year-old Brienne D. Shaneyfelt of Goose Creek, with unlawful conduct toward a child and possession of drug paraphernalia after they watched Walmart surveillance video that showed she had left the child alone for 23 minutes while she was inside the store, according to an incident report.

Hooper spoke with another customer in the parking lot who also had not seen a parent. He agreed to sit by the car as Hooper took down the license plate information and gave it to store employees, who announced it over the public address system.

Hooper called police and returned to the car. By then a group of customers had gathered around the car and decided to unlock the door by squeezing an arm through an open window. Martin Donathan of Summerville said he pulled the child out of the car and placed her in another man's car with air conditioning.

Both Hooper and Donathan said the child's mother walked through the crowd and started to unlock her car.

As the mother was filling out her statement to police, Hooper said she heard one of the Walmart employees ask whether she was going to ask about her child.

The woman told the officer that she was about to, Hooper said.

The officer noted that the child's mother showed up at 12:06 p.m. The mother told the officer that she ran into the store to pick up a prescription and was only in the store for 10 minutes, according to the report.

Officers reviewed the store's surveillance tape that showed she walked from her car into the store about 11:43 a.m., the report said.

Officers searched Shaneyfelt's purse and found a yellow, glass smoking pipe with marijuana inside, the report said.

She was arrested and the child eventually was released into the custody of Shaneyfelt's parents. Her parents declined to comment Monday. Shaneyfelt was released from jail over the weekend after posting bail.

Hooper said she and several others were shaken by the incident. She said she wasn't supposed to be at that store Friday but stopped there instead of the one in Moncks Corner because she was running late.

"I was crying," Hooper said. "If I hadn't dropped my keys I wouldn't have even seen that baby girl. The Lord put me there. I was not even supposed to be there."

Reach Andy Paras at 937-5589, aparas@postandcourier.com or on twitter at twitter.com/andyparas.