Questions arise over punishment for child left in car

Poojah Thakkar
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There are serious questions about the punishment for children left alone in cars in extreme weather.

Poojah Thakkar, 31, is spending the next 155 days confined to her Noblesville home, where she must wear an electronic monitoring device. She's serving her sentence at home after police say Thakkar left her baby girl in a sweltering car last summer while she shopped at Hamilton Town Center.

The 11-month-old girl was taken to a local hospital after other shoppers alerted police. Ultimately, the baby was fine and released to her father.

Thakkar was originally charged with child neglect, which is a felony, but instead pled guilty last month to a lesser charge of criminal recklessness, which is a misdemeanor.

"Some offenses deal with what could have happened, but here, it was appropriate. She was criminally reckless and that's ultimately what she pled guilty to," explained Andre Miksha, the chief deputy prosecuting attorney for Hamilton County.

Thakkar also agreed to take parenting classes as part of her sentence.

"Child neglect is always a horribly sad situation and trying to get to the root problem and rehabilitating and sending the right message is the goal," added Miksha, explaining why the prosecutor's office felt, in Thakkar's case, it was appropriate to sign off on a lesser charge of criminal recklessness.

The prosecutor's office will have a chance to send another message this spring when it comes to parents leaving children alone in vehicles during any extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold.

Meg Trueblood, 31, will face a jury trial this spring for doing much the same thing as Thakkar.

Police said Trueblood also left her baby in a hot car last summer while she went shopping at a store on 96th Street in Fishers. Police had to break out the car window to get to the baby, who went into seizures and was hospitalized.

So far, Trueblood is still charged with child neglect, a felony, in the case. Her jury trial is set for June 11.