A 5-week-old baby in Slidell, La., is only alive today because somebody noticed the child in the backseat of a car outside a strip mall Monday afternoon and called 911, police say. A police officer used a device to unlock the vehicle and rescue the unconscious infant, who was sweating profusely after spending more than half an hour inside the car, where the temperature was around 130 degrees, the AP reports. The baby made a full recovery in the hospital and the mother is in custody on a charge of second-degree cruelty to juveniles. Police say the mother forgot the infant in the back seat after dropping off her other child and was in "complete shock" when she realized what had happened.
"With all the media attention on this type of issue, it's mind-boggling to me that someone can leave—better yet, forget—about a child inside of a vehicle," a police spokesman tells the Times-Picayune. If the citizen hadn't called police immediately and the officer hadn't acted quickly, "the baby would not have survived," he says. "They are both heroes in my book." At least 13 children have died in hot cars so far this year—including 22-month-old Cooper Harris, whose father has been charged with murder—and safety experts say many such deaths occur when a parent is distracted or breaks their routine, USA Today finds. They urge parents who drive with a young child in the back seat to adopt a simple, failsafe reminder system: leaving their left shoe in the back seat as well.