A San Jose woman has been arrested in Placer County, and her 5-year-old child is in protective custody after the woman left her in an unlocked car for five hours while gambling inside a casino, police said.
"The girl was cold and scared and crying," said Placer County sheriff's Lt. George Malim.
While Christina Medina was gambling Tuesday at the Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln, her child's life may have been at stake as well.
"The vehicle was unlocked," Malim said. The girl could have been snatched by a stranger or wandered out into traffic, he said.
Someone spotted the girl in the car at about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday and reported to the security staff at the casino. Security officials took the girl out of the car and brought her inside to wait for a deputy sheriff to arrive. Medina was arrested when she came out to the car at about 6:45 a.m.
In the trunk of the car, deputies found more than five grams of crystal methamphetamine.
Medina, 44, was booked into the Placer County Jail on suspicion of felony child endangerment and possession of methamphetamine. Bail bond, originally set at $25,000, was later raised to $175,000. Medina is scheduled for arraignment today.
Malim said Medina arrived at the casino at about 1:45 a.m. She began to gamble, leaving her daughter unattended in the car.
"I guess the mother just lost track of time -- that's what she said -- for five hours," Malim said. "There's no justification for it at all."