By David Schwartz
PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona mother accused of leaving two young daughters alone in a car while she attended a party was charged with child abuse after the toddlers were found, holding hands, wandering near a busy intersection, police said on Tuesday.
Vanessa Tsinajinnie, 25, drunk and searching a parking lot for her daughters, was arrested before dawn on Monday at about the same time that the whereabouts of the girls, aged 2 and 4, was reported to police by a passerby, said Sergeant Steve Carbajal, a Tempe, Arizona, police spokesman.
The younger girl was wearing a diaper and had no shoes, and the older one was wearing a yellow dress with a broken shoe, Carbajal said. Both were crying.
Tsinajinnie faces two counts of felony child abuse. The girls were placed in the care of an aunt.
"This was a potentially dangerous situation that could have been tragic," Carbajal said. "The officers were able to recover the children in relatively good condition. Fortunately, they weren't harmed or worse."
Tsinajinnie told police that she left her daughters to "have a good time" at a friend's apartment, according to court documents.
She reasoned that the girls were sleeping and "usually slept throughout the night." Tsinajinnie said she was planning to check on them in an hour. It was not immediately clear how long the girls were in the car before wandering out of the vehicle.
Carbajal said the mother had been drinking when she was taken into custody outside the apartment complex and that she registered a .126 blood-alcohol reading when tested. The legal limit for intoxication in Arizona is .08.
Officers found an open bottle of Southern Comfort that was two-thirds full in the car. She also admitted to having her driver's license suspended from a previous conviction for driving under the influence.
(Editing by Steve Gorman and Greg McCune)