Deputy describes rescuing children locked in hot car
Los Angeles County sheriff's officials have provided details of how a tip from a citizen and action by a deputy led to the rescue of two children locked inside a car during sweltering conditions Saturday in Cudahy.
The children's mother was arrested on suspicion of child endangerment after allegedly leaving them in the locked car while she went shopping.
Arely Amaya, 18, is suspected of leaving her 1-year-old son and 2-week-old daughter strapped in their car seats as outside temperature reached 92 degrees. The car's interior was probably 10 to 15 degrees hotter, and the children were hot and sweaty to the touch, said Lt. Daniel Lopez of the East Los Angeles sheriff's station.
"We really appreciate it when citizens call us with information like this," he said. "We'd like to thank that citizen who placed that call."
Investigators estimated that the children had been confined in the car for 20 to 25 minutes.
Deputy Pedro Mejia got into the car through a partly opened window, which allowed him to unlock one of the doors, according to a news release from the department Sunday.
"The window was partially cracked. I stuck my arm in, unlocked the car and pulled the children out," Mejia said in the release.
The children were listed in stable condition Saturday night at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood. Amaya was in custody in lieu of $105,000 bail and faces possible felony charges, officials said.
Each year, dozens of children left in parked vehicles die from hyperthermia, an acute condition that occurs when the body absorbs more heat than it can handle, according to the National Weather Service.
Even on a mild day, the temperature inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to a dangerous level for children, pets and even adults. Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly help, the weather service advised. The effects can be more severe on children because their bodies warm at a faster rate.
The NWS noted that in one recent case, a child died of hyperthermia in a car when the outside temperature was only 81 degrees.
"No amount of time is safe to keep a child or pet in a vehicle when temperatures are this high," Lopez said.
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Photo: The interior of the car in which two children were locked during sweltering conditions Saturday in Cudahy. Credit: KTLA