UPDATE: 7:09 p.m. -- KHOU reports several bystanders have come forward to say that the mother did not intentionally lock her children in the car. According to the outlet's new story, she brought the kids into a store with her to run an errand and, as she was putting them back into the car, accidentally locked them inside with the keys. Surveillance footage captured prior to the incident appears to show the mother entering the store with both children.
With temperatures hovering above 90 degrees in Katy, Texas, on Monday, no one at a local strip mall knew exactly how hot it might have been inside a black jeep in the parking lot. Two kids were sitting in the vehicle, and shoppers believed they had to act fast.
So they smashed a window to free the small boy and girl, local outlet KHOU reported. Their decisive action was captured on cell phone video that has since gone viral.
“Even a dog can die, so imagine a person,” Gabriel Del Valle, who shot footage of the incident, told KHOU in the segment above.
Del Valle had heard the kids "crying out in desperation," KHOU wrote. The station added that the mother explained to Del Valle that she left her children in the car so she could get a haircut, and asked bystanders not to involve the police.
Though commenters on KHOU's website and Facebook page are calling for the woman's arrest, former HuffPost columnist Lisa Belkin has cautioned against demonizing parents accused of leaving their kids in the car. "Calling the parents inhuman monsters might make us feel better, but it won’t save the next child," Belkin wrote in 2013. "Recognizing they are human beings just might."
The danger of children overheating in cars has become a popular issue of late. Last week to raise awareness, North Carolina dad Terry Williams locked himself inside a car in sweltering conditions and let the camera roll. The clip of him sweating through the ordeal as he warned of the life-and-death consequences became a social media hit.
According to KidsandCars.org, 38 children are lost annually to heat-related deaths from being left in vehicles.