Youths find kids in hot car

NASHUA – A group of youths walking near West Hollis and Vine streets around dusk Wednesday may well have prevented a serious, even deadly, situation when they stopped to check out a car sitting in a parking lot with its engine running and brake lights activated.

Inside, according to police reports, the youths saw a woman in the driver’s seat who appeared “passed out,” and promptly flagged down a police cruiser that happened to be passing through the area.

The officer located the car, an older model Volkswagen Jetta, behind St. Aloysius of Gonzaga Church, he wrote in reports. Looking through the windows, he saw the woman – along with two young children.

“All three appeared to be asleep or unconscious,” the officer wrote.

He began banging on the windows. “The children stirred … when the driver opened her eyes and saw me, she appeared to gasp,” the report states.

When she opened the window, the officer wrote, he immediately “felt heat coming from the car, even though it was 77 degrees outside at the time.”

The officer identified the woman as Siobhan Heffernan, whom he recognized from previous police business, he wrote.

Shortly after she stepped out of the car to speak with the officer, Heffernan, 41, of 19 Killian Drive, was arrested on two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one count of driving after revocation or suspension.

But when the officer took custody of her purse upon her arrest and searched it, he located various medications and illegal drugs, he wrote in his report.

That resulted in five additional charges: Two felony counts of possession of a controlled drug, along with three misdemeanor counts of illegal possession of prescription drugs, the report states.

Heffernan was booked and jailed overnight, pending Thursday’s arraignment, which she waived after entering not guilty pleas to the charges.

Kara Simard, a public defender representing Heffernan, and Assistant County Attorney Brian Greklek-McKeon, agreed on a bail amount of $500, eliminating the need for a bail hearing.

Heffernan’s next court date had not yet been scheduled.

The officer, meanwhile, said that as soon as Heffernan opened her window and he felt the heat, he opened all the car’s doors for ventilation and checked on the children.

An ambulance was summoned as well, and paramedics, after looking the children over, elected to transport them to a local hospital for evaluation.

Heffernan, who became emotional and told the officer she is “going through hard times,” said she didn’t know why she had the heat on high, the officer wrote, and agreed that doing so could be harmful to her children.

Heffernan’s bail orders as imposed by the court prohibit her from having any contact with the two children, and order her to remain on good behavior as her case proceeds through court.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-1256, or or