A Duncanville officer broke the window of a locked vehicle Monday afternoon to rescue a child who had been left alone, police say.
Officers responded about 5 p.m. to a call from someone who said the child appeared to be asleep alone in the SUV in the 900 block of Gemini Avenue.
When police arrived they found the 1 year old in a car seat. The child appeared to be crying, sweating and covered in vomit, police said.
Officer Pinilla shattered a window and kept the child in his air-conditioned squad car until paramedics arrived.
Police said the incident appeared to be a mistake "caused by false assumptions and faulty communication about the infant’s well-being." The case has been referred to Child Protective Services and a Dallas County grand jury to determine if it merits civil or criminal action, police said.
The police department commended the "alert and concerned citizen" who noticed the child stuck in the SUV and Officer Pinilla for their actions.
"During the trying times, which we’ve all experienced these last several months, coupled with school-aged children either already having returned to school or who are about to return to some semblance of school, parents and caregivers are stressed," the department said. "We implore everyone to please slow down, especially those with very young children, and account for those who cannot do for themselves."
Just over 50 children have died from heatstroke in vehicles in each of the last two years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
This year there have been 19 hot car deaths this year in the U.S., including five in Texas, according to KidsandCars.org. Last week, a 4-year-old boy died after he was left in a hot car for several hours in Vidor, near Beaumont.
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Hot Car Safety
According to the National Safety Council, if it's 95 degrees outside the internal temperature of a car could climb to 129 degrees in 30 minutes. After just 10 minutes, temperatures inside could reach 114 degrees.
A child's body temperature heats up three to five times faster than an adult and heatstroke can begin when a person's core body temperature reaches 104 degrees. A core temperature of 107 degrees is lethal, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Officials have said even the best of parents can unknowingly or accidentally leave a child in a vehicle. In some cases, the child may get into the vehicle on their own and become trapped.
Here are some tips from MedStar to help keep kids safe:
- Create a reminder to check the back seat. Put something you’ll need like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or briefcase, etc., in the back seat so that you have to open the back door to retrieve that item every time you park.
- Keep a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat. When the child is placed in the car seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It’s a visual reminder that the child is in the back seat.
- Keep car keys and remote openers out of reach of children.
- Use technology Apps like WAZE have child reminders when you arrive at a destination you used a phone-based GPS to get to
- If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. Call 911 immediately. If the child seems hot or sick, get them out of the vehicle as quickly as possible.