UPDATE: Boiled Walmart Baby

A friend of Ritta’s has written in to corroborate what Ritta reported and answer some of the questions that were raised by Consumerist’s readers. Kathryn says:

• At the time of the baby’s entrapment, no cell phone was immediately available.
• After the baby was okay, police were called. They arrived but did not file a report as neglecting to help someone is not a crime.
• The ambulance that was heard was not for Ritta. The road Walmart sits on is by a major thoroughfare and several ambulance go by a day.
• Press was contacted, The North West Florida Daily News.

If the family still feels strongly, we advise contacting more news outlets, especially local TV stations.

Above is a satellite photo of where the incident occurred.

Is it Walmart’s fault the baby was trapped in the car? No. Should Walmart employees have helped? Yes, but the responsibility is not on the corporate, but the basic human level.

Kathryn’s full text inside.

Kathryn writes:

“Mr. Popken-

I just read the story about Ritta and the baby, and the subsequent comment posted by Patrick. I am a friend of Ritta. I heard about your website from my brother-in-law. He suggested that I tell Ritta about it and get her to contact you. I want to assure you that this story is ABSOLUTELY true.

What Ritta doesn’t make clear in her story is the female witness that was following her around trying to get her assistance. She mentions her briefly in the paragraph where she addresses the store managers. The woman is a juvenile delinquent parole officer.

This woman did not have anything in her possession to help Ritta (so she thought), such as a cell phone, but she heard Ritta frantically asking for help. She proceeded to follow Ritta into the store and was a witness to both of the cashier instances. The woman also placed her 3 year old grandson through the broken rear window to unlock the door (which he did promptly after patting the baby’s head).

Upon her suggestion, they DID call the police. When the officer arrived, he informed them that he could not write a report because it’s not a (legal) crime to neglect to help someone. He did suggest that she contact a lawyer.

As for the issue about the ambulance, one was never called for Ritta. The main road that WALMART sits off of is Beal Parkway. It is one of the major roadway arteries in our town. Emergency vehicles pass by there every several times a day. The sirens that were heard from the store were NOT associated with her emergency. I agree with Patrick’s statement of it being highly unlikely that an emergency vehicle would spot them. There is an AutoZone at the end of the parking lot that blocks most of the view.

After Ritta returned home, she called me and told me what happened. I told her to contact the North West Florida Daily News, which she did. The individual who answered the phone (after hours Friday) asked her to return to WALMART and take pictures of her van in the previous parking spot. My husband and I went with Ritta back to WALMRT. We took pictures of her van in the exact parking spot the incident happened. At the present time, we are waiting for the news crew to schedule a time to come out and hear her story.

As for credibility, I understand the public’s concern of a scam. Remember that the female witness is a juvenile delinquent parole officer. A friend of mine, a retired United States Air Force Master (USAF) Sergeant, happened to be walking by her van when she was inside talking to the managers. He did not know at that time that it was Ritta’s van (He found out later when I called him for advice about her situation). There were a few WALMART employees sweeping up the glass. He overheard a mumbled remark about it, “not being their problem.”

I am prior service USAF Staff Sergeant. I have chosen not to list the names of the individuals because of the pending story. I hope this helps her cause. Thank you for your time-


Kathryn H.


Correction: Boiled Walmart Baby
Baby Nearly Killed By Walmart’s Indifference


Edit Your Comment

  1. BostonBum says:

    This is Patrick that posted the question regarding the truthfulness of the original post. Certainly, this added information clears up some of the questions I had, and thank you for understanding my skepticism.

    Assuming that these employees did show total indifference to a woman and her child, they deserve whatever public shaming they get.

    It’s really too bad that this didn’t happen in Cleveland — Carl Monday would bring a lot of exposure to this.

  2. AcidReign says:

    …..I’ve shopped at this location, on last year’s September beach vacation in the wake of Hurricane Rita. (I cook like a maniac on my beach vacation, serving up seafood feasts and frozen drinks with expensive liquor; a real blow-out! No, I didn’t buy my seafood at Walmart. There’s a great fresh seafood stand on the Miracle Strip Parkway, just before the Beale traffic light that has some awesome fresh fish!)

    …..The Sam’s Club (smaller building at the bottom of the picture) had the only sub-$3 a gallon gasoline in the city. (Note the gas-pump area near Beale.) Most gas places were closed. I can’t imagine how hot it would be inside a car in this totally un-shaded lot in July! Wow!

    …..Local TV in Ft. Walton Beach consists of one small UHF station, channel 35. It’s a cable-satellite deal, if you go there and pay $200 a night to watch TV. Ft. Walton is serious small-town America, with better schools than average. Too bad the Wally World managers didn’t step up to the plate better. I’ve generally been impressed with the average local resident. And do they ever have great, uncrowded, powder-white beaches!

  3. AcilletaM says:

    I’m not sure if more follow-ups on this are going to do anything. The commentators who thought it was terrible nobody was helping her will still think this is horrible. The others won’t change their mind about the financial risk not being worth it. Hell, Mr Black is probably trying to call Social Services to report her right now.

    I am glad to see that somebody tried to help her.

    And Carl Monday, he’d be more interested if this happened in a library.

  4. Kat says:

    I’d like to relate a mistake I made once. I was babysitting, and as a trusted 20-something, was allowed to take the child out. She was 2. I was putting her in the car, and when I turned around, the stroller had rolled away – I’d forgotten to set the lock. Thank goodness, the child wasn’t in the stroller, but was in my arms! However, since then I’ve been much more careful, as I’m sure this mother will be. The point is, the mother made a mistake, and she wasn’t negligent.

  5. RandomHookup says:

    I actually prefer that my parole officers NOT be juvenile delinquents.

  6. I’m a professional firefighter. We make “child locked in vehicle” calls all the time.

    Here’s your MacGeyver tip for the day: The woman in question had the means to break into her car close at hand all along. The glass in car windows will break with a small amount of CONCENTRATED force. Just snap the antennae off a car, preferably one with a little BB sized ball on the end. Smack the window with it using a “whipping” motion. Shout, “Holy shit! It worked!” as you hear the sweet, sweet sound of breaking glass. You’re in.

  7. Hooray4Zoidberg says:

    Good tip Kilgore, however it might soon be obsolete. I’m looking out my window right now and out of the 30 or so cars parked on my street I don’t see a single antennae.

  8. ValkRaider says:

    I read all the way through this and the previous post.

    To hell with all of you who are defending WAL-MART.

    Legal issues be damned, I can tell you for a FACT that if this same occurance had happened at a small local Hardware store or Grocery store or whatever – that half of the staff would have been outside breaking into the damn car.

    Once commenter had it sort of correct. These big block stores turn everyone into zombies.

    They are so interested in the bottom line, and they push push push for productivity and no errors and all of that crap. Their employees stop thinking after time. They start just doing the minimum to get by.

    I have a local True-Value hardware that every single time I walk in I am greeted by at least two people, and a third will come up and ask me what it is I am there for that day, and then walk me to it. Every time. I have butchers at a local grocery that remember what cuts of meat I like, and the people at the food co-op know which soda I buy regularly. And every one of them would have saved that baby without hesitation.

    WAL-MART is indeed at fault here. Sure – they didn’t lock the baby in, or cause the heat, or any of that. But they have dehumanized our commerce to such an extent that no one cares anymore. But thank god they can save 28 cents on underwear and get light bulbs, antacid, swimming trunks, pork rinds, and an air compressor all at the same store.

  9. tkstaple says:

    I have collected donations annually for the Handicap Citizens at this Wal-Mart for several years. The real surprise are the people who consistently donate a dollar to the cause are the Wal-Mart employees. They do it on their lunchbreaks and leaving work. Visiting vacationers with Escalades and Suburbans filled with 2-3 grocery carts of stuff walk right by as if not their concern.
    This area is heavy military, with most being officers. I have personally seen many emergencies in this area, and there are NEVER any problems finding HEROES! We live among them everyday in our US military, even if John Kerry thinks they are dumb.
    Wal-Mart and Sam’s are very good corporate citizens in our area.