4-year-old girl left in van at tow lot after mom's arrest

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Officials are investigating after a 4-year-old girl spent eight hours in a freezing cold minivan at a Milwaukee impound lot until a police officer heard her crying for help.

A police officer on duty at the tow lot discovered a 4-year-old girl in an impounded vehicle around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

"Apparently, the girl was obviously very upset and crying, something that none of us would like to have happen to any of our children,” said Jeff Polenske with the Milwaukee Department of Public Works.

The child was checked by fire officials for immediate harm then transported to the hospital. The temperature dipped as low as 19 degrees while she was in the car.

The minivan was towed to the lot around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday after the female driver was pulled over and arrested for allegedly operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Police removed a 10-month-old child from the car but somehow never saw the 4-year-old, who was left in the vehicle as it was towed to the lot. Once the van arrived at the lot, a Public Works employee inspected the vehicle with a flashlight but never looked inside.

"We want to make sure that it never happens again. If there's something more that we can be doing, a more thorough exam of that vehicle, we will be doing that,” Polenske said.

Milwaukee Public Works says it will be thoroughly reviewing the incident.

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