A Florida grandfather has been charged after allegedly leaving his granddaughter in a hot rental car Monday, according to the Volusia County Sheriff's Office in DeLand, Florida.
David Towner, 62, of Port Orange, Florida, was babysitting his 1-year-old granddaughter when he returned a rented vehicle to the Hertz facility at Daytona Beach International Airport, at approximately 5:13 p.m., with the young girl still inside, according to a news release from the sheriff's office on Tuesday.
Volusia sheriff's deputies arrived at the Hertz rental lot around 6 p.m. after a Hertz employee notified authorities they had found a toddler, who they did not identify, in the back seat of a locked car in the unshaded parking lot. The deputies who found the child said she appeared to have cried and seemed scared and hot. Paramedics who checked on the toddler later concluded she was "in good health," according to the news release.
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The temperature at the airport during the 45-minute incident hovered between 81 to 83 degrees Fahrenheit, according to data from the National Weather Service.
According to the sheriff's office, Towner appeared remorseful and cooperated with deputies when contacted following the incident. He was charged with one count of child neglect and taken to Volusia County Branch Jail.
The child's mother, who had also called the sheriff's office to report the incident, was reunited with her daughter afterward.
In an emailed statement to "Good Morning America," a Hertz representative said, "We're grateful for the actions of our Hertz teammates and glad the child is safe."
A representative of Daytona Beach International Airport also shared a statement with "GMA."
"Everyone at Daytona Beach International Airport is thankful the child was safely reunited with her mother. The Hertz employees deserve recognition for bringing the child to safety and comforting the child. We are also proud of our security team and Volusia Sheriff's Office deputies for their quick response," airport manager Joanne Magley wrote.
Amber Rollins, a director at the nonprofit Kids and Cars Safety, which aims to prevent children's injuries and deaths in and around vehicles, previously told "GMA" that adults leaving children in hot cars is an oft-misunderstood occurrence.
Children left in hot cars are at a higher risk of heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke, and even death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Rollins offered several tips to prevent a hot car incident:
- Adopt the "look before you lock" habit.
- Keep a physical object, such as a kid's toy or diaper bag, in a car's front seat to remind the driver of the presence of a child in the car.
- Inexpensive, stick-on door alarms on a vehicle can also serve as a physical reminder.
- Inform others that a child will be traveling in a car, creating more chances others will check in to make sure the child traveled to their destination safely.
- Make kids aware of the hazards of a hot car. Kids in a hot car could cry or otherwise make noise, alerting others they're in a hot car by themselves.