SELDEN, N.Y . (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island man was arrested Wednesday after he allegedly left his 4-year-old daughter inside a locked vehicle for approximately 15 minutes.
Around 2 p.m., police responded to a 911 call from a woman who reported seeing the child in a Mercedes Benz at Selden Plaza on Route 25. The woman also flagged down Dave Panebianco, 3rd assistant fire chief with the Selden Fire Department.
“I was driving through the parking lot, and I got waved down by a female,” Panebianco told WCBS 880. “And pulled up to her. She asked me if I was here for the child stuck in the car. I was like, ‘OK, I’m not sure what you’re talking about, but what do you have?'”
The girl was sleeping in the backseat, authorities said. The car was not running, and the windows were rolled down approximately a half-inch, police said.
“I could see a little girl in the backseat, covered by what looked to be like a sunvisor of some sort that you kind of put in the front window,” Panebianco said. “And I could see that she was breathing. And I could also see that she was kind of covered in sweat.”
Other members of the Selden Fire Department responded and were able to unlock one of the doors.
Panebianco said he brought the girl into his air-conditioned vehicle and began treating her for a heat emergency. She was then transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for examination.
Police found the father, Juan Pablo Aguilar Varela, of Mount Sinai, inside the TJ Maxx department store. He was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
Varela is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday.
Suffolk County Child Protective Services was notified.
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