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Derry woman charged with leaving toddlers in hot car

DERRY – A Derry mother is facing charges after she allegedly left two toddlers inside a sweltering vehicle outside of Walmart on Tuesday afternoon.

Marie Dennis, 33, of 42 Pond Road, Derry, was arraigned in Derry District Court on Wednesday morning on two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, and resisting arrest.

Police and fire personnel responded to a 911 call shortly after 4 p.m. on Tuesday after several people noticed two young, unattended children locked in a green 2001 Mazda Tribute in the Walmart Parking lot on Ashleigh Drive, according to police Captain Vernon Thomas.

"The current temperature was in the mid-90s and the vehicle was parked in the unshaded parking lot with its windows open less than one inch," said Thomas. "Officers noted that the children appeared to be in distress due to the temperature in the vehicle. They were crying, sweating, and had a red color to their faces."

According to witnesses, the two children had been in the vehicle for about 20 minutes.

As emergency workers tried to get into the vehicle, Dennis approached them from the store and unlocked the Mazda with her keys. The children were taken by a medic to a waiting ambulance, according to Thomas and fire department personnel began treating the children at the scene.

The children were then taken to Parkland Medical Center, where they were treated for heat exhaustion and later released to a caretaker, Thomas said.

Dennis struggled with officers trying to arrest her, Thomas added. Her bail was set at $5,000 cash or surety.

Bail conditions include that she has no unsupervised contact with children under the age of 18 and she remains in custody at Rockingham County jail, according to Thomas.


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