Allentown
39° F
Mostly Cloudy
Mostly Cloudy

Family of woman charged with leaving infant in van speaks out

By Dwayne Parker, Reporter, DParker@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 21 2014 10:11:13 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 22 2014 09:52:22 AM CDT

Brother says woman suffers from mental health issues

BETHLEHEM TOWNSHIP, Pa. -

Family members of a Bethlehem woman, accused of leaving her infant daughter in a minivan while she drank inside a bar, say she suffers from mental issues.

"What if this baby would have died last night in the car?" asked Russ Altif, who spoke exclusively with 69 News.

Altif's sister, Lisa Altif, was arrested after police say an employee of the Keystone Pub, at 3259 Easton Avenue in Bethlehem Township, called them and reported that a two-month-old was locked in a mini-van in the parking lot.

Police say the infant's mother was inside the bar.

"She was seated at the bar, at the end of the bar. They got her outside. She produced the keys to the vehicle, at which time they got the child out of the vehicle," said Sgt. Rick Blake, Bethlehem Township Police Dept.

The news was a total surprise to Altif's family members, who said they didn't know that Altif was pregnant.

"Oh, I am completely distraught. I am so upset that I can't even describe how upset I am about this incident. It's just mind boggling to me," said Russ Altif, the mother's brother.

Police say the infant was strapped to the floor of the mini-van with cargo straps for almost 5 hours, with no formula or diapers in the vehicle.

They add that the baby's temperature was one degree below normal.

While it's still not clear why Altif was in he bar, family members say the mother suffers from mental health issues. 

"That's the problem we've been having. We've been trying to get her help for a period of six years now and it is almost near impossible," said Russ Altif. "They can't force help on the people that won't voluntarily get help."

Russ Altif says by speaking out he hopes to prevent this incident from happening to another child.

Tonight Lisa Altif is behind bars for $40,000 bail.