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Mother charged with child abuse after leaving 12-year-old alone in car

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A mother has been charged with felony child abuse after deputies say she locked her 12-year-old son in her car for half an hour Monday evening while she worked out at a southwest Albuquerque Planet Fitness.

Lucila Gonzalez, 33

Lucila Gonzalez, 33

According to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court, the gym’s manager called the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office after seeing a patron’s son and dog in a car in the parking lot on Coors near Dennis Chavez SW.

The manager said she had told 33-year-old Lucila Gonzalez her child was in the car but she “didn’t appear to be worried about it.”

But the Sheriff’s Office apparently was worried about it, although it would not answer questions Thursday about what danger the boy was in.

Through a Spanish-speaking translator, Gonzalez told the deputy she had left the sun roof of her Volvo open for ventilation while she went to work out. The temperature was about 83 degrees at that time, according to weather reports.

Since the car was locked, deputies asked Gonzalez to ask her son to open the door, but he was unable to do so. Gonzalez had to get her keys from inside the gym to unlock the door, according to the complaint.

It is unclear from the complaint why the preteen was unable to unlock the door, and a spokeswoman from the Sheriff’s Office said the deputy on the case didn’t know either.

“(The deputy) told me she asked the child to open the door and he was unable to open the door, but she doesn’t know specifically why,” said deputy Felicia Romero.

The deputy wrote in the complaint that Gonzales’ son appeared nervous.

When deputies talked to him, he said his mother leaves him in the car a couple times a week while she works out, and he usually just naps or reads, according to the complaint.

“(The boy) also informed deputies that sometimes he gets nervous about being in the vehicle alone because of all of the people that walk near the vehicle,” the deputy wrote in the complaint.

Although Gonzalez said she had left her identification at home, the deputy found she did not have a valid driver’s license in the state, according to the complaint.

Gonzalez was arrested and her husband came to the gym and took the boy and the dog home. Gonzalez could not be immediately reached for comment.

It is unclear from the complaint exactly what danger the boy was in or why leaving him alone was child abuse.

Chief Deputy Sid Covington would not answer any questions asked by the Journal about the arrest Thursday, saying it was an “ongoing investigation,” despite the fact that charges have already been filed against Gonzalez.

“Just because an arrest has been made it doesn’t mean the investigation is complete,” he said. “That’s the beginning of the investigation, not the end of the investigation.”

He didn’t say what deputies are investigating.

A city of Albuquerque ordinance says children older than 10 can legally be left alone at home. It doesn’t mention leaving a child in a car. New Mexico does not have a law making it illegal to leave a child in the car, although one has been proposed, according to the national organization Kids and Cars.

Gonzalez appeared before a judge in Metropolitan Court on Wednesday. She had been released from the county jail on a $15,000 cash or surety bond Tuesday.

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