HIRAM, Ga. -- A Hiram mother is in custody after police found two small children locked inside an unattended vehicle Saturday afternoon.

City of Hiram Police were dispatched to a Walmart on Jimmy Lee Smith Parkway on Oct. 8, after callers reported seeing two little girls inside a blue Hyundai Sonata with the windows rolled up.

When officers arrived, they found a 4-year-old and a 7-year-old inside the car with the engine not running. Police said in a release the girls were in “obvious distress and were sweating profusely.” Officials said the outside air temperatures were estimated at 81 degrees at the time of the incident, while the interior of the vehicle was estimated to be upwards of 100 degrees.

FULL COVERAGE | Ross Harris Trial

One of the officers was eventually able to talk one of the frightened children into unlocking the door so he could get them out of the hot car. The children were checked out and released to a family friend.

Police later used Walmart’s surveillance video and discovered that the mother, identified as 34-year-old Ashley Lee of Dallas, Ga., had arrived at the store around 12:30 that afternoon and returned with a cart full of groceries just after 1:00 p.m.

Lee was taken into custody and booked into the Paulding County Adult Detention Center on two counts of Cruelty to Children Second Degree.

Police credit witnesses who called 911 for the safety of these children. So far in 2016, there have been 36 Hot Car deaths according to http://noheatstroke.org/.

Hiram police said they are “proud this incident did not add to those unsettling numbers.”

CRIME NEWS | Mugshot Gallery

Access previous stories and get in-depth analysis on the Ross Harris trial by clicking here. 

Stay updated on the trial by downloading the FREE 11Alive News app now in the iTunes store or on Google Play.