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‘Please, God, let this child be alive’: Officer rescues toddler left in hot car

After finding the child, police gave her water and food. A phone in the car led them back to her grandmother and mother, who took her home. (Courtesy Prince George's County police)

WASHINGTON — A Prince George’s County police officer’s discovery of an unresponsive man Tuesday led to another unsettling find: a baby girl who’d been left in a hot car for hours.

“I said, please, God, let this child be alive,” Cpl. Darryl Wormuth said when he described peeking into the hot car on a 90-degree day and finding the 1-and 1/2-year-old girl alone inside with the engine running and a single window rolled down.

The toddler is fine, but the unresponsive man is now facing charges.

Wormuth’s story began with finding a man in the 3600 block of Parkway Terrace Drive in Suitland, Maryland, Wednesday afternoon. The man was lying face down in a grassy area, police said.

Using a car key fob on the man’s lanyard, Wormuth tried to locate anything that could help identify the man, but the fob didn’t activate any of the cars in three nearby lots. Wormuth escorted “the conscious but verbally responsive man” to the hospital, police said.

About three hours later, Wormuth returned to the apartment complex on Parkway Terrace to continue his shift. “Something just kept nagging at my mind,” the officer later said in a statement, so he went back to the area that he had searched.

It was then that he heard music coming from a parked car, authorities said. Its engine was running.

Wormuth looked into the driver’s-side window, which was open, and saw an infant in the back seat.

The 1 and 1/2-year-old, police said, was strapped in a car seat but not moving. Her head was tilted forward.

“I had a minute to take a deep breath … And I could see her chest begin to rise,” Wormuth said.

Officers gave her water and food. A phone in the car (with dozens of missed calls) led police back to the girl’s grandmother and mother, who took the child home.

Police said the unresponsive man was the toddler’s father. He now faces a reckless endangerment charge as well as a related charge of leaving a child unattended.

WTOP’s Nick Iannelli and Jack Moore contributed to this report.


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