Mom accused of leaving kids in car for hours

September 2, 2008 2:59:16 PM PDT
Two small children were left alone in a truck for eight hours. Investigators say their mother came home from a party early Monday morning and forgot to bring her kids inside. At the hospital, a half hour after they were pulled from the vehicle, their core body temperatures, we're told, were measured at 105 degrees. It's unclear how high it had been prior to that.

Neighbor Norma Sierra could not fight back tears when she told us about the children she saw lying right outside her neighbor's trailer home.

"They were all purple and blue," she told us. "One wasn't breathing."

That vision has haunted Sierra for the last 24 hours. What the children's mother said and did before that, she says just doesn't make sense.

"She was just yelling in the background, 'My babies, my babies,' and she got the water hose and she was trying to spray them on the face," said Sierra.

Sierra says someone at first had yelled that the children drowned, but Rosenberg police tell us that, in fact, Sandra Mendoza, 20, left the one-year-old and two-year-old boys strapped into their car seats inside the truck. Police say she arrived home from a family gathering at 5am Monday, that after a night of drinking, she went inside and went to sleep.

"We have no reason to believe the mom would intentionally hurt the children," said Lynn Munford with the Rosenberg Police Department. "It just seems to be a series of careless events that led to a very unfortunate situation."

The children spent eight hours inside the truck. Investigators say Mendoza didn't remember they were there until 1pm Monday.

"That's not right," said Sierra, fighting back tears. "That's not right."

In an effort to approximate the temperature inside the truck, Rosenberg police on Tuesday placed a thermometer inside a similar vehicle at about the same time of day as the children were found. In just 18 minutes, it read more than 120 degrees.

Mendoza is charged with two counts of injury to a child. She's at the Ft. Bend County Jail.

We learned that the children's names are Ivan and Ishmael Noyola. Ivan is on a ventilator in ICU at Children's Memorial Hermann in critical, but stable condition. Police say Ishmael is doing better than his brother, that he is in stable condition.

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