Restaurant employees, concerned customer step in to rescue child from hot car

Published: Aug. 2, 2017 at 10:25 AM EDT
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By: Noelani Mathews | WCTV Eyewitness News

August 3, 2017

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- A Valdosta couple was arrested Monday, after police say they knowingly left their 3-year-old unattended in a hot car.

The couple was inside the Rodeo Mexican Restaurant on North Ashley Street, when the staff heard a cry for help.

"Please call 911. We need to do something. Call 911," said Elena Bustos, a waitress at the restaurant.

She says a concerned customer spotted a child trapped in a car parked in front of the restaurant, with the windows rolled up and the engine off.

"The baby was so red. It was crying. It was scared," said Bustos.

Employees knew the clock was ticking as police and paramedics made their way to the business.

"My friends came outside and tried to help me take the baby out of the car," said Bustos.

It's not a typical request for the waitress, but she and staff knew they had to act fast.

"She was scared and I was scared too," said Bustos. "I didn't know what to do. I just said, 'why is this happening to me?'"

Manager, and mother, Adylene Huerta helped calm the child.

"She was kind of scared, so we told the little girl, 'you're okay. We are going to take you out. Nothing bad is going to happen,'" said Huerta.

After countless minutes of searching, the restaurant staff finally found the parents inside waiting on a to-go order.

"The guy was drinking a beer and the mom was sitting at the bar," said Huerta.

Police say both of the suspects lied to officers, saying they were only gone for two minutes. Rodeo's surveillance footage proved the couple was inside the restaurant for 20 minutes.

"The first thing I thought about when I saw that little girl is my babies," said Huerta.

"There's no way you can leave a kid outside without protection," added Bustos.

Police say a relative met officers at the scene to take custody of the child.

Rodeo management says the child's grandparents came to the restaurant later that day to thank the staff for their help.

By: Amy Robinson | WCTV Eyewitness News

August 2, 2017

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- A couple has been arrested after Valdosta Police say they knowingly left their 3-year-old child unattended in a hot car.

Just after 6 p.m. on Monday, VPD officers responded to a restaurant in the 2800 block of North Ashley Street for a report of a child being left unattended in a hot vehicle.

Officers met with a concerned citizen at the scene who told them that the toddler had been left in a car alone with the windows rolled up and the engine turned off.

Police say the temperature outside at the time of the call was 86 degrees.

Officers located the child's parents inside of the business.

The child was taken out of the vehicle and paramedics responded to the scene to evaluate the toddler, who was uninjured.

Police say the child's parents, Timothy Kelly, 27, and Jessica Brown, 30, said that they knew the child was in the vehicle but it was not a problem because they had only been in the restaurant for two minutes.

Police reviewed surveillance video taken from the restaurant and determined that the couple had actually been inside for 20 minutes.

Kelly and Brown were taken into custody and the Division of Family and Children Services were notified. A relative responded to the scene to take custody of the child.

Kelly and Brown were taken to the Lowndes County Jail and warrants were obtained for each on one count of reckless conduct.

VPD Lieutenant Adam Bembry said, "The Valdosta Police Department thanks the citizen who called for emergency assistance, had she not been concerned for the child’s safety, the result could have been deadly."

In a press release, VPD stated:

"According to a scientific graph by San Francisco State University, the heat inside the enclosed vehicle would have risen an estimated 29 degrees within the 20 minutes the child was left inside the vehicle –with both windows rolled up and no air conditioning. The outside temperature of 86 degrees combined with the increase of 29 degrees brings the estimated temperature inside the vehicle to 115 degrees when police arrived on scene."