By Rob Polansky, David McKay, CNN
Manchester, Conn. (WFSB) — Two daycare workers were arrested for leaving three young children alone in a car in a store parking lot.
According to Manchester police, 52-year-old Beth Rich and 51-year-old Mark Babcock, both of Coventry, face three counts each of leaving a child under 12 unsupervised.
Two children were 2 years old and the third was 4.
Police said they responded to the BJ’s Wholesale Club parking lot on Tolland Turnpike around 11 a.m. on Tuesday.
A BJ’s employee had been walking through the lot and heard children crying. Police were called.
“I work at BJ’s Wholesale Club in Manchester and I actually had my gas station attendant come in and say there was kids in car seats left in a Ford truck by themselves and they’re crying,” a 911 caller told dispatchers.
As officers arrived, they said the suspects were in the process of returning to their vehicle.
“They’re young,” the caller said, referring to the children. “There’s a couple of them in a car seat. They’re crying.”
The suspects told police that they were in the store for about 5 minutes. They said they didn’t realize they couldn’t leave children unattended for such a short period of time even with the windows cracked.
They also told investigators that the children were from her daycare business. However, police said they learned that the time frame the children were alone was a half an hour.
Dave Cerrigione’ daughter was one of three children found alone in a truck in the BJ’s parking lot.
“Anger, I was very upset. So many different things go through your head. Thank God they were found safe. You know, thank God two people at BJ’s stepped up and did the right thing and called 911,” he said.
Cerrigione stopped by the BJ’s on Wednesday to thank them.
“Anger, I’m still angry. I mean the audacity somebody has to put your child’s life at risk and not even bat an eye over it,” Cerrigione said.
Rich and Babcock were arrested and released on $2,500 bonds. Their Coventry address is also listed as the address for Hennequin’s Happy Home Daycare.
The Dept. of Children and Families is now investigating, along with the Office of Early Childhood.
The Office of Early Childhood issued a license suspension for the couple’s daycare. This means services must be suspended and no children can be cared for.
An administrative hearing is scheduled for the middle of May.
Both were given a court date May 15 of 10 a.m.
The children were not hurt and turned over to the custody of their parents, police said.