Eastbourne toddler stuck in ‘roasting’ car for five hours

Angry: Charlie Nunes and her daughter Mia
Angry: Charlie Nunes and her daughter Mia

An 18-month-old toddler and her mother were among those stranded in a hot car on the M25 for five hours waiting for breakdown cover.

Charlie Nunes, 28, of Gardner Close, Eastbourne, and her daughter Mia were on their way to a wedding with friends when their car broke down on the motorway on September 14.

They were told that the AA would arrive within an hour, but they waited in the heat near the Dartford Crossing for hours before help eventually came, causing toddler Mia to vomit from heat exhaustion.

By then they had run out of milk for the baby and food and water for themselves.

“I feel traumatised. It was just horrific,” said mother Charlie, driving, whose husband Rob receives the cover through his bank, “I cannot believe they put my daughter in that position.”

When the garage agent arrived to tow Charlie’s car, it was discovered that the driver was not aware there was a child in the car, and therefore did not prioritise the incident, and that there had been an error in mapping the location. The AA has offered Charlie’s family £150 as an apology for the incident.

But she said, “The £150 ‘offer’ is an insult for the danger they left my daughter in.

“I am glad they are taking responsibility for it and admit they are massively at fault but I will be taking it further.

“I am 100% going to leave the AA,” the mother added.

Karlie Lisondra, 28, and Wendi Morgan, 58, mother of two bridesmaids at the wedding and the bride’s aunt, were also in the car on their way to the celebration in Essex.

But by the time cover arrived, it was too late and they missed the wedding.

Wendi, of Green street, said, “I’m mortified. I can’t believe I didn’t get there. My niece is heartbroken.”

Karlie, a dinner lady from Lakelands Close, said the whole day was traumatic and she is still upset by it.

“It was a nightmare,” she said, “I missed my oldest friend’s wedding. We will never get that day back.”

“I don’t blame anyone else but the AA. It is completely unforgivable,” she added.

The AA said they were extremely sorry for the distress caused, but in a later statement an AA spokesperson added, “We have investigated this case further and found that the ladies who were travelling in the car when it broke down are not AA members; the person who initially reported the breakdown, who was the only individual entitled to use this membership, unfortunately was not present at the breakdown and called from elsewhere.

“Despite this, we provided service anyway to recover the driver and passengers who had broken down, but the member had provided us with the wrong location and in fact the wrong motorway, which exacerbated the situation and added to the difficulty in finding the breakdown, that was several miles from the location given.

“When we called the ladies to confirm where they were (and which direction they were heading on the motorway), they did not know and the location error was discovered when they checked a marker post at the side of the motorway. Unfortunately, we had not been made aware of the wedding until after the event had already been missed.

“However, we appreciate that it was an unacceptably long wait endured, given that we had agreed to provide service. Once again I would like to apologise for this and the fact that such an important occasion was missed. We have been speaking to one of the affected individuals since then to agree a resolution, and continue our attempts to contact the other lady involved.”

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