Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood understands how someone can forget their car keys, or even their wife, but for the life of him he can't get over what happened in the township this weekend, when a father forgot his baby boy for more than 30 minutes in a locked vehicle on a day when temperatures rose in to the 70s.
"It boggles my mind that probably the most precious thing this guy has in his life is his child and how do you forget a child in a car?" he said. "You can forget your wife. You can forget your car keys. You can forget your car was running. But to forget your child?
Amir Chaudhery, 32, his wife and their 14-month-old son drove from Montgomery Village, Md., Saturday to visit family in Upper Darby, Chitwood said. Chaudhery dropped his wife off to go shopping along 69th Street and drove around looking for a parking space, with his son asleep in the back seat, according to police.
When he found a space on Ludlow Street near 69th, he rolled the windows of his Toyota minivan up, turned the engine off, got out of the car, locked it, left his baby behind and went looking for his wife along 69th Street, Chitwood said. The car was parked directly in the sun around 2 p.m. on a day when the temperature in the area reached a high of 71 degrees at 2:45 p.m.
Two Good Samaritans, Nelson Santana, 45, of Springfield, and Scott Smith, 29, of Germantown, Md., were walking in the area around 2:30 p.m. when they heard the child screaming and saw him trapped in the car, Chitwood said. They called a nearby parking enforcement officer over and that officer called 911.
Police arrived on scene and were ready to break out one of the vehicle's windows when Chaudhery, who had seen the commotion around his car, came running up, Chitwood said.
The vehicle was opened and the baby, who was hot to the touch and whose clothes were dripping wet with sweat, was doused with cold water, police said. The Good Samaritans even had an ice pack in a first aid kit in their car, and that was used to cool the child down until he was taken to Delaware County Memorial Hospital, where he was treated for a racing heart and released to his mother, Chitwood said.
Chaudhery, who claimed the incident was an accident, was "very remorseful and apologetic," Chitwood said. Still, police charged the father with recklessly endangering another person, endangering the welfare of a child, simple assault and related offenses.
"In my opinion, there is zero tolerance for leaving a child," Chitwood said. "I don't believe he meant to do it but it's totally negligent. If you can't take care of your child, whether it's intentional or not, then you have to pay the consequences."