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Foster mother charged after 9-month-old rescued from hot vehicle in West Knoxville parking lot

The Knoxville Police Department arrested and charged a foster mother with one count of child endangerment on Saturday.

A Knoxville foster mother is being charged with reckless endangerment after officers said her 9-month-old infant was rescued from a hot vehicle over the weekend.

The Knoxville Police Department arrested 38-year-old Claire Huenefeld Saturday after a witness called 911 to report a baby had been found inside a vehicle at the Kroger Marketplace off Cedar Bluff and Kingston Pike.

Police said they arrested the foster mother after the infant had been left inside a vehicle on the hot afternoon for roughly 20 minutes, saying she claimed she had forgotten she had the infant with her at the time and had went into the store with her other child.

Police responded initially to a 911 call about a 9-month-old boy being left inside a van without the engine running. The witness told police she found the child red in the face, very sweaty and crying loudly.

Police said the witness and manager both noticed the car was unlocked and got the infant out before getting cold water and towels to help him cool down. The temperature outside the car was reportedly 90 degrees at the time. According to AAA, when it is 90 degrees outside, a vehicle can heat up to 143 degrees.

The child was taken to the East Tennessee Children's Hospital for further examination. Officers said the child's condition greatly improved during the ambulance ride to the hospital and he checked out okay without any signs of serious issues.

According to police, the infant was taken by the Department of Children's Services before they met with the father at the hospital.

Police said they waited about 15 minutes after they arrived until a woman walked out of the Kroger shopping center to the vehicle.

When officers went over surveillance video, they said they saw Heunfeld enter the Kroger around 6:35 p.m., and the child was taken out of the vehicle around 6:55 p.m.

Police arrested Heunfeld and booked her into the Roger D. Wilson Detention Facility. She has an initial court date set for May 22 for her bonded arraignment.