A 10-month-old baby trapped in a hot car suffered in front of his mother when she tried frantically to get him out. An investigation into this incident is being conducted by the Tampa Police Department because a 911 operator allegedly failed to help the woman’s child and follow protocol. The operator apparently didn’t alert firefighters or police to the emergency Saturday afternoon.
ABC Action News reports that Shana Dees witnessed her son getting “hotter and hotter.”
Dees tells the news station:
“I was just sitting there, watching him get hotter and turn redder, and he was soaked with sweat.”
Dees took her son, Jack, to run errands in town. After coming out of a CVS store in New Tampa, Dees saw that her car was parked on bumpy ground and her shopping cart kept rolling into the parking lot. Jack was in the cart, so Dees unstrapped him from it and sat him in his car seat and closed the door. At that point, she focused on getting the cart to remain still. It was during then things took a frightening turn.
“Those three seconds, when I was moving the cart, he hit the lock button,” Dees said.
The baby was trapped in the hot car after he unknowingly locked the vehicle while playing with his mom’s keys. Dees’ purse and cell phone were also in the car with Jack.
Next Dees asks a stranger if she could use his cell phone to dial 911.
Dees tells the 911 dispatcher:
“My infant son is locked in the car in the parking lot. It is so hot outside. I’m really concerned, like I don’t think I have time to call AAA before he would suffer heat exhaustion. Can somebody come out and open the door? I don’t even know if that is something you guys do.”
Surprisingly, the operator was less than helpful with the response:
“They won’t be able to try to gain access [to the] car unless the child is in some kind of distress and, well, by that point they may just smash your windows.”
The operator hangs up.
“The dispatcher absolutely made a mistake. This is not the way we do business,” said Laura McElroy, Tampa Police Department spokeswoman.
“The dispatcher should’ve kept the mother on the line, should’ve found out where she was and then immediately dispatched both a police officer and fire rescue.”
An off-duty officer appeared out of CVS witnessing the commotion and dialed 911. Another operator answered then action was taken. By that point eight minutes had passed since the child was locked inside the vehicle.
Before help arrived, another CVS shopper showed up, ran back into the store, grabbed a wrench, and broke the passenger window. He grabbed the boy and gave him to his mother.
Dees thanks those who helped her:
“I would like to say thank you to them, to the man who let me use his phone to the officer that was able to get the police out there. Those were the first responders.”
The 911 dispatcher will likely face disciplinary action for not sending help after hearing that a baby was in a hot car needing critical assistance. ABC News reports that the dispatcher in question is on administrative duty pending the investigation.
[Photo Credit: Screen Shot via ABC Action News]