PALMER PARK, Md. - A Prince George's County police officer trusting his gut instinct returned to the scene of an arrest and found a baby girl alone in a hot running car.
Cpl. Darryl Wormuth found the child in the parking lot of a Suitland apartment complex where she had been sitting for at least three hours.
This all started when the officer was on patrol Tuesday at the apartment complex and located a man apparently high on narcotics. Cpl. Wormuth had first responders come to the scene to treat the man and take him to the hospital.
However, before the man was transported, Wormuth noticed there was a key fob on a chain around the man’s neck. The officer clicked the key fob, but didn't hear a panic alarm for a vehicle nearby.
They eventually took the man to the hospital and Cpl. Wormuth was with him for several hours. Afterwards, he went back to the apartment complex sensing something wasn’t right.
When he returned, he located a Toyota RAV4 running with the driver's side window down. Inside the vehicle was a 1-year-old girl in a car seat.
"My initial thought was, ‘Please God, let this child be alive,’” said Cpl. Wormuth. “Her head was forward. She was either sleeping or had passed [out] and I literally said, ‘Let this child be alive.’ I could see her chest begin to rise. In this situation unlike other situations as a police officer, I had a minute to take a deep breath and figured out how I was going to handle the situation.”
At that point, he called for backup and texted the property manager, Latrice Leake. He told her he had found the child in the back seat of the running SUV. Leake was nearby and came as fast as she could with chicken nuggets she had just bought along with some water.
Knowing that the child was alive and breathing, Cpl. Wormuth then rubbed the girl’s arm and she began to cry. The pair then tried to calm the child with the officer showing videos of his dogs to the girl as they gave her some water and fed her the chicken nuggets.
Inside the car, the officer found a cellphone and was able to get in touch with the baby's grandmother, who then called the baby's mother.
"Mom was crying, mom was visibly upset,” said Cpl. Wormuth. “She grabbed the child, she hugged her child. The baby I think was just happy to see a familiar face. Not that she didn't like our company, but she ate the nuggets over the French fries. But she was happy to see mom.”
The man who was taken to the hospital was the baby’s father. He has been charged with reckless endangerment and a related unattended child charge.