Police: Mother leaves child in van, attends funeral

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WTSP) -- At about 3:50 p.m. Saturday afternoon officers received a call regarding a child who had been left in an unattended van for several hours.

The child, a 4-month-old female infant, was treated at the scene by paramedics for heat exposure and transported to All Children's Hospital.

The infant's condition appears to be stable and not life threatening at this time, but she remains at the hospital for further testing.

Both the mother and father were interviewed and investigating officers learned that 32-year-old Natasha Graver, the child's mother, had decided to attend the funeral of the three women who were killed in the hit-and-run accident on June 26th.

She placed her infant daughter in the child restraint seat in the backseat of her van and then proceeded to the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church at 3300 31st Street South to attend the service which took place at about 1:00 p.m. Saturday.

Graver claimed that once in the church lot, she forgot about her child and proceeded into the church leaving the van windows up and engine off.

After the service concluded, Graver returned to her van and drove home to still unaware that she had placed her child in the back seat.

After arriving at home, she again left the van unattended with the windows up and engine off and went into the house.

Graver's husband, the child father, was home at the time and apparently did not question the whereabouts of the child, assuming his wife had left her with a relative.

They made plans to go out to eat and upon returning to the van to leave, they discovered the child unresponsive in the back seat and called 911.

Natasha Graver claimed that leaving the child unattended was not intentional and she had just forgotten placing her in the van. The car seat was found by officers in the center of the van's backseat, just behind and to the right of the driver's seat.

Officers estimate, given Graver's account, that the child was left unattended in the van for approximately three and a half hours.

Graver was charged with one count of child abuse and transported to the Pinellas County Jail.

Child Protection investigators also responded to the scene and Graver's four other children, ages 13 to a 1 year old, were left in the custody of her husband.


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