A man was arrested Monday night in Levy County after leaving an 8-month-old locked inside of a car.
Nelson Santo Perez, 31, was charged with felony neglect of a child and was taken to the Levy County jail, according to a news release from the county’s sheriff’s office. His bond was set at $100,000.
A Levy County deputy was flagged down by a citizen about 4 p.m. Monday and taken to a parked car outside the Bronson Laundromat at East Hathaway Avenue in Bronson.
The citizen told the deputy that she saw a screaming infant inside the vehicle, which had its windows rolled up and was parked under direct sunlight.
“It’s becoming that time of year now that the heat here in Florida is rising very rapidly,” Levy County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Scott Tummond later told WUFT.
“And not only with children, but also with animals, if you leave them in enclosed vehicles, the interior temperatures of those vehicles can skyrocket over 120 degrees very quickly. I think it would surprise most people to know how fast the temperature rises inside of a closed, locked vehicle.”
Every year in the U.S., about 38 children die from heat while being left in locked cars, according to KidsAndCars.org.
Perez, the vehicle’s owner, was located and instructed to open the car. He had parked at the about 20 minutes before and was inside the laundromat with three other small children, the release said.
The deputy said Perez didn’t open the door quickly and instead seemed worried about a potential fine.
The child was drenched in sweat, and her breathing was labored. These signs can indicate heat stroke, a common occurrence for children or animals who are left in closed cars, Tummond said.
The infant was taken to UF Health Shands Hospital and was kept overnight for observation. She is expected to make a full recovery.
The Department of Children and Family Services is investigating.