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Couple Leave Two Toddlers in Freezing Car While Going Wine Tasting

A couple left two children, a 22-month-old boy and his slightly older sister, alone in a gray Volvo on a Washington, D.C. street Saturday afternoon while they went to a wine-tasting at a restaurant down the street. The temperature was 28 degrees, and not only did neither child have gloves or a hat, the boy had no shoes or socks. Police said the girl was “hysterically crying.”

Surveillance video from the Ritz-Carlton showed the Volvo was parked at 3:38 PM; the couple, Christopher Daniel Lucas, 41, and Jennie Teresa Chang, 46, left the car at 3:46 PM. Police were notified at roughly 4:30 PM by a State Department lawyer living in a condominium that overlooked the parking space. Police arrived shortly after that, just as Lucas returned to the car, professing that he left an iPhone in the car connected to Chang. The police report quoted Lucas saying, “The children were sleeping, so I went inside,” adding, “I left to go inside the restaurant, but I’m watching them.”

Police questioned the restaurant’s manager, who confirmed that the couple had been in the restaurant for roughly one hour.

Lucas and Chang reside in a $1 million rowhouse near the restaurant. They were arrested and charged with two counts of attempted second-degree cruelty to children. They could be sentenced up to 10 years in prison, having told the court that they are the children’s parents. They were held in jail until their court appearance Monday afternoon; they were then released until a hearing February 18 and ordered to stay away from their children. Lucas, a software engineer, and Chang, who works for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, intend to hire their own legal team.

Paramedics examined the children and pronounced them healthy; the children were given to D.C. Child and Family Services.

Chang was a contributing author to a drug safety newsletter published by the FDA in 2007.

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