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UPDATE: Child rescued from locked car

Distraught mother calls deputies 'heroes' after toddler freed unharmed

Posted: August 20, 2012 11:45 a.m.
Updated: August 20, 2012 6:15 p.m.

Deputies Tom Drake, left, and Mike Perry of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station try to free a toddler from a locked SUV at the Westfield Valencia Town Center on Monday.

It was a frantic Monday morning for a local mom who accidently locked her 2-year-old son in her car in the mall’s outdoor parking lot.

The story has a happy ending, thanks to three sheriff’s deputies whom the mother called “heroes.”

About 10:30 a.m., deputies received a call from an emotional woman saying her son was locked inside her SUV at the Westfield Valencia Town Center mall in front of the Lazy Dog Cafe, Sgt. Rich Nagler said.

The woman had just closed the driver’s door when she realized her keys were still in the car. She called 911 immediately, Nagler said.

With Santa Clarita Valley in the third week of high summertime temperatures, the distraught mother and deputies responding from the other side of the mall were painfully aware of the trapped toddler’s urgent situation.

“The temperature outside was already over 90 degrees and responding deputies knew they had to act quickly,” Nagler said.

Deputies Mike Perry and Tom Drake tried a variety of implements — including a sturdier version of a wire clothes hanger — to unlock the SUV’s theft-proofed doors.

The task proved challenging as each attempt failed despite teamwork by the deputies.

Finally, after at least 10 minutes, with Drake following directions provided by his partner Perry peering through the passenger window, the door popped open.

The alarm sounded, but the mother cared little for that and lunged to grab her son.

The boy was calm with red cheeks but fine as he hugged his mother.

“They’re heroes,” she said of the sheriff’s rescuers.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Price reassured the frantic mother as initial attempts to open the SUV door failed.

“Don’t worry. We’ll get him out,” Price said.

“The second we see that he is in distress we’ll get him out — minus a window,” he said.

As it turned out, deputies working without hesitation finally freed the boy.

“It was a good thing she phoned us right away,” Price said.

Media representatives of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department used the local incident to warn others about heat-related problems.

“With the high temperature the Santa Clarita Valley has experienced during the past few weeks, it is important to stay cool and hydrated,” Deputy Joshua Dubin said in media released issued about the rescue.

“Remember that heatstroke is 100 percent preventable,” he said. “The temperature inside cars can reach 200 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the high temperature outside, sunlight, color of vehicle, and the type of car.

“With temperatures that high, and without proper cooling, the heat can be dangerous and even deadly, especially with young children and pets.”







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