SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – A day after a toddler had to be rescued by firefighters from a hot car at a San Jose, Calif., shopping mall, emergency responders talked to KTVU about the danger of leaving children unattended in vehicles.
The rescue happened Monday afternoon. The mother apparently told police she just planned to run a quick errand. Now she could be facing charges for child neglect.
Authorities aren't sure how long the child was left in that car, but they estimated between 5 and 10 minutes. Police credited quick thinking shoppers and the quick action of firefighters with likely saving the boy’s life.
The rescue was caught on video and posted to the KTVU Facebook page.
Frantic bystanders at the Fallas Shopping Center watched as San Jose firefighters got to work freeing the young boy from the hot vehicle.
"Our mission was just to get that baby out as soon as possible," said Martin Mora, one of the firefighters who responded to the call.
"But all the doors were locked so that's when we put our tools into action," said firefighter and paramedic Joshua Scheib.
They popped the lock, pulling the sweaty, crying boy from the car. They stripped the two-year old down and rushed him to a waiting ambulance.
"You know we had the air conditioner going on. We tried everything we can just to bring the patient's temperature down," says Scheib.
In cases like this, a matter of minutes could mean the difference between life and death according to San José State University professor Jan Null. He has spent the last decade studying the topic of heat in cars.
"In the first ten minutes, the temperature rises 19 degrees off whatever the outside air temperature is, so that an 85, 90 degree day, you're already up into what could be a deadly level for a child," said Null. "The next ten minutes, it rises another ten degrees."
Firefighters say the temperature Monday afternoon hit 92 degrees where they were, meaning the temperature in the car may have been 121 degrees in 20 minutes.
In this case, firefighters got the boy out in time. Authorities say he is going to be OK.
The San Jose Police Department is investigating the incident. The mother apparently told detectives she and a second child just ran into the store for a minute.
"Obviously, whatever the mother explained to the officers there at the scene and to the detective, all that's going to play into what the DA decides to do with this case," says Officer Albert Morales.
He said the case was being sent to the district attorney on Wednesday and that the mother could face child neglect charges.
Firefighters were just glad someone thought to call 911. They say it's never OK to leave a child in hot car.
"It is a true blessing to have somebody call at the time, because who knows what could have happened," said Mora.
Nationwide, 26 children have died in hot cars so far this year with one of them dying Wednesday. Firefighters hope by talking about what happened, they can prevent other incidents like this in the future.
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