Passer-by, police rescue baby left alone in hot car
July 28, 2013 at 2:28 a.m.
Updated July 29, 2013 at 2:29 a.m.
Number of vehicular heat stroke deaths
• 2013 (As of July 22): 23
• 2012: 33
• 2011: 33
• 2010: 49
• 2009: 33
• Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.
• Put something you will need, like your handbag or wallet, in the back seat.
• Keep a large stuffed animal in the child's car seat when it's not occupied, and when the child is placed in the car seat move the stuffed animal to the front passenger seat.
Caleb Grahmann has never been more thankful for walking down the wrong aisle in the Victoria Wal-Mart parking lot.
While the 18-year-old was zigzagging through the rows of cars to find the right row, he heard a baby crying.
He and his mother, Tracy Pressler, of Cuero, ran over to the white Nissan Altima and saw a baby, about a year old, strapped in her car seat and alone in the car.
"I still remember everything. I won't ever forget. It was row 15. ... The little girl - she had on a little yellow jumper. She was crying. She would cry and then stop and cry and then stop," said Pressler, a mother of three.
The girl's hair was soaked with sweat, Pressler said, and Pressler immediately dialed 911 while trying to keep the baby calm.
A Victoria police officer responded about 5:30 p.m. Sunday, said Lt. Michael Tatum with the police department.
The officer wiggled a back window loose and was able to unlock the door.
Tatum said the car is reported to have driven into the parking lot about 4:15 p.m., meaning the child was in the car without air conditioning for more than an hour.
"With the summer heat the way it is, being closed up in a car, even with the windows cracked, it gets awful hot in a car, especially for a young child. It does not take long for them to start suffering," Tatum said.
The baby was returned to her family, Tatum said, although he was not sure who came and got the child.
He said the grandmother is reported to have left the child in the car.
Tatum said no one was arrested at the scene, but the department is filing child endangerment charges with the Victoria County District Attorney's Office. It will be up to the District Attorney's office to accept those charges and issue a warrant.
The names of the child and her grandmother were not available Sunday.
The high Sunday was 95 degrees at 2:25 p.m., according to the Weather Channel.
"I was crying, and I almost couldn't talk to the dispatcher," Pressler said. "I have three kids. They are all grown now, and that -- it just threw me."
Related coverage: Gene Weingarten's Pulitzer Prize-winning feature titled "Fatal Distraction."