Couple arrested after allegedly leaving kids in hot car while arguing

BUCKHANNON – An Upshur County man and woman were arrested for allegedly leaving two juveniles in a hot car for 10-20 minutes while arguing inside a home.

Jeffrey Cowger, 45, of Buckhannon, and Carol Tenney, 28, of Buckhannon, were arrested for two counts of gross child neglect creating a substantial risk of death and one count of domestic battery.

According to the criminal complaint in the Upshur County Magistrate Clerk’s Office filed by investigating officer Cpl. F.J. Turansky with the Buckhannon detachment of the West Virginia State Police, on June 1, 2024, at approximately 1:03 p.m., Turansky was called to a residence on Clarksburg Road in reference to a domestic situation.

While en route, the Upshur County 911 Center said they could hear a male subject yelling. Upon arrival, Turansky spoke with a male subject, identified as Cowger, who said he and his girlfriend, Tenney, were arguing. When asked if the kids were in the residence, Cowger said they were in the vehicle.

Turansky then approached a gold 2004 Chevrolet Tahoe and opened the rear door. An eight-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl were sitting in the back seats and appeared to be red-faced, according to the complaint.

Turansky noted the extreme heat within the vehicle, which was not turned on and the windows were rolled up; the temperature outside was approximately 80 degrees that day. The officer later used a thermometer to get an approximate internal temperature of the vehicle. The thermometer began beeping, turned red and displayed “HI” on the digital screen. He was able to get a reading of 109 degrees Fahrenheit in a shaded spot inside the vehicle with the door open, the complaint states.

After removing the juveniles from the vehicle and requesting EMS assistance, Turansky spoke with Tenney, who was inside the residence. She said she was the caretaker of the children, along with their father, Cowger. According to the report, during an argument, she pushed Cowger into a door, and Cowger then pushed her into the three-year-old juvenile. When asked how long the children had been in the car, Tenney stated, “for about 20 minutes.”

Turansky then spoke with Cowger, who guessed the children were inside the vehicle for approximately 10 minutes. The children were transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital by EMS, and CPS was called to take custody of the kids.

Bail was set at $100,000 cash only by Upshur County Magistrate Mark Davis.

The potential penalty for gross child neglect creating a substantial risk of death is a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $3,000, confinement in a state correctional facility for not less than one nor more than five years, or both.

The potential penalty for domestic battery is confinement in jail for not more than 12 months, a fine of not more than $500, or both.

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