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Arizona woman arrested for allegedly leaving child in hot car

Witnesses reported seeing a distressed child left alone in a vehicle.

MESA, Ariz. — An East Valley woman is facing criminal charges after she allegedly left a 4-year-old child locked inside a hot car.

Nichole Yazzie, 32, is accused of intentionally leaving the juvenile alone inside a vehicle at a time of day when the outdoor temperature was 110 degrees, court records show.

On June 15, witnesses reported seeing a child alone in a car parked near Southern Avenue. The car’s engine was reportedly not running and all the windows were rolled up. 

When police officers arrived on scene, the suspect was seen approaching the vehicle and opening a door. The child was sweating and appeared to be disoriented, according to police. 

The child was treated on scene and later released by medical personnel. 

Investigators estimated the internal temperature of the vehicle could have reached 129 degrees.

Yazzie allegedly admitted to leaving the child in the locked car and decided to turn off the car’s engine because she didn’t want the child to “drive away,” court records show. The suspect allegedly acknowledged she knew it was wrong to leave a child in a locked car without air conditioning.

The suspect was booked into the Maricopa County jail and could be facing a charge of child abuse.

“The Valley” is what locals call the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. It is considered the largest metropolitan area in the Southwest. 

The Valley is made up of various major cities other than Phoenix, including:

  • Mesa
  • Chandler
  • Scottsdale
  • Tempe
  • Glendale
  • Surprise
  • Peoria
  • Gilbert
  • El Mirage
  • Avondale
  • Litchfield Park
  • Goodyear
  • Buckeye

Whether a city is in the “East Valley” or “West Valley” depends on where it is in relation to Phoenix.

The cities of the Valley have a combined population of 4,845,832 people, according to the 2020 United States Census. This makes it the 11th largest metropolitan area in the country right behind the Boston and Atlanta areas.

How big is Maricopa County?

Maricopa County is the United States’ 4th largest county in terms of population with 4,485,414 people, according to the 2020 Census.

The county contains around 63% of Arizona’s population and is 9,224 square miles. That makes the county larger than seven U.S. states (Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, Massachusetts and New Hampshire).

One of the largest park systems in the nation is also located in Maricopa County. The county has an estimated 120,000 acres of open space parks that includes hundreds of miles of trails, nature centers and campgrounds.

The county’s seat is located in Phoenix, which is also the state capital and the census-designated 5th most populous city in the United States.

The county was named after the Maricopa, or Piipaash, Native American Tribe.

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