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'Heroic' North Texas Officer Talks With CBS 11 About Finding Baby In Distress, Locked Inside Hot SUV

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) — A Duncanville police officer who saved a baby from a hot car is speaking out for the first time.

The incident happened on August 17, when a bystander called 911 about an infant locked in a vehicle that was parked outside a shopping center.

Officer Pinilla says he heard the cries as soon as he got out of his cruiser. "At first I couldn't find the baby but I heard her. It's kind of an industrial area so the sound was bouncing off the buildings and I could figure out where it was at." He soon located the baby, strapped in a car seat inside of an SUV.

According to Pinilla, it's against state law to leave a child unattended for more than 5 minutes, so he wanted to do his due diligence and wait. That all changed once he spotted vomit on the baby's clothing. "Knowing that's one of the signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion.. that's when I decided it didn't matter how long she was in there," he said. "At that point, I had to get her out."

He used his expandable baton to break the front passenger window, then unlocked the vehicle. Pinilla said, "She was soaking wet, she was kind of slippery so I took her out of that vehicle and got her into my patrol vehicle."

The officer wiped the baby down and turned up the air conditioning, hoping to cool her down. "The vehicle was about 123 degrees inside and her body temperature when medics arrived was 100.1," he said. Thankfully the little girl was okay.

The baby's mother and grandmother soon returned to the vehicle; Pinilla says they were distraught at what happened. Both said they had stopped to drop off children at a relative's home before going shopping; each thought the other had taken the baby inside at that time. The case is being referred to a grand jury for possible charges.

For Officer Pinilla, he's just glad the little girl survived. "I don't see myself as a hero - most of us don't," he said. "But we do what we're supposed to do and we get put in a place at the right time and, you know, take care of the situation."

The Texas Heatstroke Task Force awarded a Badge of Courage award to Officer Pinilla for his actions that day. The Duncanville Police Department has also nominated him for a lifesaving award; that is expected to be handed out at next month's city council meeting.


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