PRIOR LAKE, Minn. (KMSP) - An Eden Prairie man is accused of leaving his 1-year-old son alone in the car while he gambled at Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake, while it was only 25 degrees out.
29-year-old Nicholas Anderson was arrested last week and charged with child endangerment. He made his first court appearance Tuesday, and police hope this is a warning for all parents.
"When the officers got called it was 25 degrees out," Prior Lake Police Chief Mark Elliott said.
Elliott said a patron heard the baby crying in the parking lot and alerted casino security. Officers arrived and got the toddler out, but he was in the locked car for at least two hours without the engine running.
Police said the baby was strapped to a seat wearing a onesie and wrapped in only a blanket.
"It doesn't take long for hypothermia to set in after that," police said.
Several states have laws against leaving a young child unattended in a car, but Minnesota doesn't have one. It's up to the discretion of police to determine if a kid left alone is in danger.
"With a 17-month-old, don't leave your child in a car at anytime," Elliot said.
According to charges, Anderson admitted to leaving his son in the car and told officers he's struggled with gambling since he was discharged from the military.
Police said his wife had no idea her husband was at the casino, and eventually picked up their child unharmed while Anderson was arrested and led away in handcuffs.
Child endangerment is a gross misdemeanor. Anderson is out on bail and faces up to a year in jail and a fine. His next court date is in February.
Mystic Lake Casino has banned Anderson for life.