Elderly Woman Left Locked in Hot Car

Adult Protective Services in Evansville is getting involved after an elderly woman is found locked alone in a car–and rescued by police–in the middle of the day.

As those officers responded, the sun was reaching the peak of the day at the N. Burkhardt Walmart parking lot, where a passerby spotted the 92-year-old woman trapped inside a vehicle.

Around 11:30 in the morning on June 18th, Tracie Ruff stumbled upon something strange. So she called 911.

She had found Tharen Burris alone inside a locked car, and tapping on her window. She was trying to get Ruff’s attention.

Police say security footage shows Burris was left behind as her daughter went inside to shop at the store.

“The family member stated she left her loved one in the vehicle for about 30 minutes to her calculation. Our officers were able to ascertain that that 30 minutes was actually 40 minutes, which can be confusing. You can understand that 10 minute gap there,” observed Officer Philip Smith of Evansville Police Department.

Though Ruff tried to coach Burris through unlocking the door, she wasn’t able. So police had to step in. Responding officers believe Burris suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. But a man at Burris’s home claiming to be her son-in-law insists there’s no story here.

“She got overheated. Someone’d seen her overheated. And they called a whole bunch of people before they got ahold of my wife who was in the store. End of story,” he asserted.

We invited him to speak to us to get the family’s side. He declined.

Dispatchers say on the day Burris was found, temperatures inside the car could reach roughly 109 degrees after just 30 minutes.

“Technology has changed. Something that may seem normal like a lock on a car to you may be different to them. The locks in their time may be a little bit different. The technology may be a bit confusing especially if you’re in that kind of heat and disoriented,” Smith added.

Though Burris was checked out at the scene and released back into her daughter’s care, social services are expected to knock on the door of their home for further evaluation. Police are waiting until the visit from protective services before deciding the next steps in this case



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