SUITLAND, MD. -- A Prince George's County Police Department officer is being called a hero and credited with saving a one-and-a-half-year-old girl from a hot car on Tuesday, when temperatures were in the 80s.
The officer involved said it happened because he followed his gut instinct.
Corporal Darryl Wormuth said when he was patrolling an apartment complex in the 3600 block of Parkway Terrace Dr. in Suitland, Md. on May 1, when shortly before noon he saw a man lying face down in an open grassy area. He said the man was unresponsive and he believed he was under the influence of "“a controlled, dangerous, substance”.
Wormuth said the man had no identification on him, but did have a car key fob around his neck. Wormuth said he clicked the panic button on the fob, but none of the nearby cars were activated.
Wormuth said he then escorted medical responders to the hospital with the man and then resumed his patrols. But, he said that near the end of his shift around 3 p.m., something was nagging at him.
"I don’t know what it was, it was my senses, I really don’t know what it was, but something, something was telling me to go back to this area," said Wormuth.
This time, Wormuth said he went to a parking lot about 150 feet away from the spot where the man was found, that was hidden from view by large bushes. Loud music caught his ear and he found it came from an idling car.
"And that’s when I saw a child in a car seat," said Wormuth. "My initial thought was, I said, 'Please, God. Let this child be alive.'".
Wormuth said the child's head was slumped forward, but it turned out she was sleeping. He said he thought she had been in the car between three to four hours. When he found her, the outside temperature was 81 degrees. He said the car's AC was running on low, but the driver side window was down, negating its effects.
"She appeared to be warm, a little bit clammy, but she didn’t appear to be fatigued or to the point where we needed to immediately transport her," added Wormuth, who had served as a firefighter and paramedic prior to becoming a police officer.
Wormuth said he found a wallet in the car confirmed that it belonged to the man he had helped earlier and this girl was his daughter.
Wormuth said he also found a phone in the car that he was able to use to call the girl's mother and grandmother who came to pick up the child. The girl is now in their custody and is recovering.
The father is facing several charges, including reckless endangerment and abandoning a child, but Wormuth said more charges could be added.