A mother was arrested yesterday after she left her four children aged between one and seven years old in her car for more than nine hours while she was eating alone in a restaurant.
According to the Richmond Police Department, 34-year-old Raquel Hernandez decided to leave her kids in the car while treating herself to an all-you-can-eat meal at the Golden Corral Buffet & Grill.
The 400-lbs woman arrived around 11 AM and was still eating when the police arrived on the site at 8:20 PM.
29-year-old Sarah Ferguson, the waitress who warned the police, says she noticed the kids in the car when she arrived for her shift and saw them again when she finished her work.
“I saw them in the car when I arrived around 11:30 in the morning, I thought their mother was gone for a quick visit at the nearby pharmacy or something. But when I finished my shift eight hours later, they were still there!”
Ms. Ferguson called the police, who immediately freed the children from the vehicle and went looking for the mother.
The young waitress says she was shocked to find out that the mother of the children was a customer she had served during her entire shift.
“She was there during the whole eight hours I worked. I must have picked up at least sixty empty plates from her table.”
The single mother of four will now face four charges of child abandonment and four charges of child neglect.
If found guilty on all charges, Ms. Hernandez could lose custody of her children and spend up to 20 years in prison.
She was freed from jail this morning on a $12,500 bail, but her children will remain under the care of social services until the end of her trial.