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Man faces felony after child left in hot car

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A Columbus father has been charged with neglect of a dependent after leaving his young son in an SUV with the windows rolled up for 20 minutes.

The temperature in the vehicle had reached 124 degrees Monday when the 5-year-old boy was removed from the car screaming and sweating profusely, said Lt. Matt Myers, Columbus Police Department spokesman.

Jesus Dubon Nataren, 38, Columbus, was held in the Bartholomew County Jail on $10,000 bond, facing the Class D felony charge. The child was released to the mother and has recovered, Myers said.

Child Protective Services was notified and is assisting Columbus police in the investigation.

Police went to the Walmart at 735 Whitfield Drive just before 3:30 p.m. after witnesses called to say the child was in a 2003 Chevy Trailblazer with the windows rolled up.

The outdoor temperature was 89 degrees when police arrived.

A witness saw the child in the vehicle and reported it to Walmart officials, who went to the unlocked SUV and opened the door. They then called police and the ambulance, Myers said.

Police used the store’s surveillance system to determine the child was in the vehicle about 20 minutes, Myers said.

Officers located Dubon Nataren inside the Walmart. He told police he was running into the store to get a chicken dinner and completely forgot the child was left in the car. He contended that the child had not been left inside the vehicle for long, police said.

The child was checked by Columbus Regional Hospital ambulance personnel for excessive heat exposure.

Dr. Kevin Terrell, medical director for the hospital’s emergency department, said anyone who sees a child alone in a hot vehicle should call 911 immediately, as minutes matter in saving the child’s life.

On a warm day, the temperature inside the vehicle can be 30 or more degrees hotter than the outside temperature, even with the windows cracked, he said.

“There really is no safe amount of time to leave a child or pet in a car,” Terrell said. “Children are more susceptible to getting overheated because of the way they are made and because they don’t sweat as efficiently

as adults.”

Treatment involves hydrating and cooling the overheated child, Terrell said.

In the ambulance, emergency medical service providers start intravenous lines, spray cool water on the child and apply ice packs, he said.

“Once the child arrives

in the emergency department, we continue what has been started by EMS, and we can also apply cooling blankets and more sophisticated cooling devices, when these measures are necessary,” Terrell said.

Cars and heat safety

The National Weather Service provides the following advice about the dangers of allowing children or pets to stay in vehicles in hot temperatures.

The temperature inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to a dangerous level for children, pets and even adults, even in relatively mild summer temperatures. Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly decrease the heating rate. The effects can be more severe on children, because their bodies warm at a faster rate than adults.

Safety tips

Never leave your child unattended in a vehicle, even with the windows down.

Always make sure that all children have left the car with you when you reach your destination. Never leave a sleeping infant in a car.

Make sure a child’s safety seat and safety belt buckles aren’t too hot before securing your child in a safety restraint system, especially when your car has been parked in the heat.

Teach your children not to play in or around cars.

Always lock car doors and trunks, even at home, and keep keys out of children’s reach. Children have died after locking themselves into a vehicle or a vehicle trunk without an adult’s knowledge.

Never leave pets in a vehicle in the heat, even with cracked windows. Slightly open windows cannot provide enough relief from the heat.

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