Friday, May 24, 2024

West Palm Beach father arrested after leaving toddler in hot car during shopping trip

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Hot cars can become deadly for children in a matter of minutes, according to recent studies. It almost happened to a 3-year-old girl in West Palm Beach over the weekend.

42-year-old Raul Rielo-Fernandez was arrested, accused of leaving his daughter in the backseat of his parked SUV without the engine running to go shopping. It was a scorching hot day, police said.

The incident occurred in the Sam’s Club parking lot, located off 45th Street in West Palm Beach last Saturday afternoon.

“Good Samaritans apparently opened the car. It was unlocked and took the child out of the car seat,” West Palm Beach police spokesman Mike Jachles said. “When they found the girl, she was profusely sweating. She was red, flushed and crying.”

Police said Fernandez forgot he left his daughter in the vehicle.

“He went inside apparently to do Mother’s Day shopping. That’s what he told police,” Jachles said.

In surveillance videos from police, the father can be seen on his phone, walking inside Sam’s Club. He was then spotted in the checkout line several minutes later.

“Then after he checks out, he goes into the liquor store for several minutes. Leaves the liquor store, proceeds back towards his car, sees the commotion. That’s when he realized he apparently left his daughter in the car,” Jachles said.

Fernandez was charged with Unattended Child in Motor Vehicle Excess of 15 minutes and Child Neglect Without Great Bodily Harm, a felony.

See also: Man, 78, identified as boat operator in crash that killed 15-year-old girl: FWC report

Officials determined his daughter was in the car for about 31 minutes.

“Certainly, it could’ve been deadly for that child,” Jachles said.

Officers determined the temperature in the car rose to at least 117 degrees Fahrenheit.

NHTSA: Childhood Heatstroke Prevention

Heatstroke happens when your core body temperature reaches 104 F (40 C) or higher. Heatstroke needs immediate medical attention to prevent permanent damage to your brain and other vital organs that can result in death, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Kids are more at risk, as children’s bodies warm three to five times faster than adult bodies, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Vehicles can heat up quickly, with temperatures rising 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes, creating a deadly situation for a child locked inside. 29 children died from vehicular heatstroke nationwide, last year.

West Palm Beach police hope this recent arrest and close call serves as a reminder to all of us to slow down and remember who is with you, especially little ones who can’t fend for themselves.

For more information and safety tips on children and hot cars, visit National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Childhood Heatstroke Prevention Campaign.

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