CEDAR HILL (CBSDFW.COM) - In spite of repeated warnings, parents are still leaving children unattended in hot cars… and experts say it's just a matter of time before another child dies.
Lee Reed and his wife were shopping for a new barbecue grill in Cedar Hill on Monday, when they heard—but, couldn't see—a crying child.
"My wife and I looked through the window, and we saw a 2-3 year-old boy, buckled into the car seat," says Reed. "My first thought was, am I going to have to break this window? We were pretty distressed that someone would have left him in there alone."
But, the world being what it is, the would-be hero also admits to a moment of worry: could someone sue him?
"That was my second thought!" admits Reed. "You never know if people are going to have an issue or want to bring charges."
Ultimately, Cedar Hill police charged the boy's mother, Nikellie Warren, with child abandonment and endangerment. But, the question of liability—even when trying to save a life—has surfaced before.
"You want people to do the right thing: so you ask the question, what is that?" Dallas defense attorney and former police officer Pete Schulte says if there's time, call 911.
"You say to yourself, is there obvious signs of distress? Is it life or death? If it is, it changes the situation," says Schulte. "If it's life or death, then break the window and you deal with the aftermath later. If not, call 911. Let the professionals show up, they have governmental immunity." Schulte admits that "anyone can sue for almost anything"-- but, suspects that such parents wouldn't get far with a lawsuit.
Fortunately, time was on Reed's side: the door was unlocked and the toddler was still alive.
"We were able to see that the baby was moving… he was yelling his head off; but, he was conscious and it wasn't as hot as it could have been; but, still pretty hot outside and I can imagine even worse inside."
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