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Mom says 911 dispatcher refused to help baby trapped in car

NEW TAMPA, Fla. (WFTS) -- After a 10-month-old boy accidentally became trapped inside a hot car in Florida, his mother says she received a shocking answer when she called 911 for help.

Shana Dees took her child on an errand to pick up bleach and bottled water. She strapped him into the car seat and shut the door behind her — then realized the little boy had the car keys.

“In those three seconds when I was moving the cart, he hit the lock button,” Dees told WFTS.

Dees’ black Acura wasn’t running and the temperatures outside were nearing triple digits, so the mercury in the car was quickly rising. She said her son’s face started to change and was “obviously getting much, much hotter.”

She frantically circled the car, pulling on all the doors hoping to find one that wasn’t locked.

Panicked, she begged a passerby for a phone and called police.

The following is a transcript of the subsequent 911 call obtained by WFTS:

  • Mother: “Hi, um, my infant son is locked in the car in the parking lot.”
  • Dispatcher: “They won’t be able to kind of gain access to the car unless the child is in some sort of distress.”

Then, the dispatcher abruptly hangs up.

“The dispatcher absolutely made a mistake. This is not the way we do business.” said Laura McElroy, with the Tampa Police Department.

Eight minutes went by before an off-duty Tampa police officer made a second call to 911.

  • Off-duty officer: “Baby locked in a car.”
  • Dispatcher: “OK. Where are they at?”

Dees’ son has now been in the car for some 10 minutes and finally help is on the way.

“We will be out there for her,” the dispatcher told the off-duty officer.

But before police could arrive, another passerby helped, breaking the car’s left passenger window with a wrench.

“I’d like to say thank you to them — to the man that let me use his phone, to the retired officer that was able to get the police out there. Those were the first responders that day,” Dees said.

Tampa police have launched an investigation into the dispatcher’s actions, WFTS reports.

2 comments

  • Chris Hug

    Sorry but I fail to see how this was even an emergency. The woman’s first instinct as soon as she saw her child was in distress and realized all doors were locked should have been to break the goddamn window. Chalk it up to a lesson learned, get a new window and don’t let your kid lock themselves inside of a car next time.

    Some people really shouldn’t be allowed to breed…

    • shantay

      accidents happen…maybe she didnt have the means of breaking the window. the dispatcher was wrong…it shouldnt take another officer calling in order to get help

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