KENNESAW, Ga. -- It was 7:24 pm on July 5th. Fourth of July sales were going strong inside the sprawling Town Center Mall mall. Outside, temperatures that day had reached 93 degrees. A 16-month-old girl was sweating, left behind in a parked car.
Ada Smith's temperature was 100.2°. The windows were rolled up, and sweat had soaked through her clothes and into the padding of the car seat. Her savior came dressed as a mall security officer.
The officer saw the girl and immediately called 911. First responders were able to unlock the car. They rescued the girl, but said she had been there between two and two-and-a-half hours.
"The child's clothing was completely soaked in sweat," Cobb County Police spokesperson Alicia Chilton said. "She was clearly dehydrated and needed medical attention."
Town Center management turned down 11Alive's request to interview the security guard, but sent a statement:
Town Center at Cobb management would like to commend the mall’s vigilant security team as well as first responders for their prompt response to this situation. We are working closely with local authorities to share any information that may assist in their investigation.
The girl was rushed to the hospital. They waited for the driver to return. And waited. And waited.
No one ever came.
They impounded the car. Police used vehicle records to track down the owner: Dao Le.
Dao's husband told 11Alive's Jon Shirek the 22-year-old Smyrna mother works three jobs and goes to school. She's studying photography at the Art Institute of Atlanta, he said. The couple takes turns watching Ada. They also have a babysitter that helps with child care.
He said Dao was called in unexpectedly Wednesday to cover a shift at the clothing store where she works at Town Center Mall.
Ada's father swears she's never left their daughter in the car while working before. He said he's "sick" about the incident. Extended family from North Carolina are on their way to Atlanta. Dao's husband is hoping police will release the toddler into his care.
Dao was booked into the Cobb County jail and charged with felony cruelty to children. Bond was set at $50,000. Her daughter remains in the hospital.
"It just gives me cold chills," Chilton said. "People have got to stop and think about what they're doing."