Tow Truck Hauls Away SUV Near Mall With Two Toddlers Still Inside

From a Washington Post story by Salvador Rizzo headlined “Tow truck hauls away SUV near Va. mall with toddlers still inside”:

A tow-truck driver hauled away an SUV parked outside the Pentagon City mall Tuesday morning with two toddlers inside, and police cited the driver who had left the children in the car.

The 26-year-old woman called police shortly after 11 a.m., reporting that her car had been stolen while her children, ages 3 and 1, were inside. Police said that the vehicle was towed because it was in a no-parking zone and that a “preliminary investigation indicates the tow operator was unaware the children were inside and upon notification, pulled over to check on them.”

“Responding officers then made contact with the children and determined they were in good health,” Arlington police spokeswoman Ashley Savage said.

After police officers took the woman to the towing company’s lot to retrieve her children, she was cited for contributing to the delinquency of a minor and allowed to leave.

John O’Neill, the owner of Advanced Towing in Arlington, said the woman left her white Hyundai Kona with the engine running and doors unlocked for approximately 16 minutes “in a fire lane outside the mall.”

A photo of the vehicle posted on, which first reported the incident, appears to show a clear view into the SUV through the front window. But the web site did not post an image showing a side view.

O’Neill said the tow-truck driver did not spot the two toddlers strapped into the back seat before pulling away with the vehicle, in part because of the sun’s glare and because, in O’Neill’s telling, the “seats were black leather, and so were the car seats, and the children were African American.”

The children are not visible in photos the driver took from the outside, O’Neill said.

“The kids were both asleep, and they both were covered up,” O’Neill said. “We actually notified the police department that we were towing the vehicle, and the police department called us back to tell us there were kids in the car. Driver pulled over, checked on the kids; they were fine.”

Tow-truck operators have alerted police before when they have found children left in wrongly parked cars on high-temperature days, O’Neill said. “We find them often,” he said.

Salvador Rizzo covers crime and justice in Virginia for The Washington Post. He was a reporter for The Fact Checker from 2018 to 2021 and previously covered New Jersey politics.

Speak Your Mind