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Monday, January 12, 2009

Child Towed Away With Van in CO

Here's the 1/8/09 report from MyFox Colorado:
JEFFERSON COUNTY - Lakewood police are considering charges against the parents of a 5-year-old girl who was left sleeping in their van Tuesday night.

That van was then towed to Denver with the child inside.

Skyline Towing took the van from the Harlan Hills Apartments at 1679 Harlan St. to its impound lot at 3800 Wynkoop St.

The family had been visiting a cousin and parked in the lot--which requires a parking permit. They didn't want to wake their 5-year-old daughter, so they left her sleeping inside the van.

"They went to get bread for coffee," says David Meraz, cousin of the girl's mother.

The husband had left for a few minutes. And when his wife looked outside-- she didn't see the van. But she figured her husband took it. It wasn't until he got back that their hearts dropped.

"She ‘asked here is the van?’ Her husband said, 'I don't know. Did someone move it?' It wasn't there. The mom got so scared," says Meraz.

"We received a phone call from the parents, telling us their vehicle was gone and their daughter had been inside the vehicle when it was taken. They had no idea it had been towed," says Steve Davis with Lakewood Police.

"I've never had this happen to me. I've been towing cars since 1976," says the tow truck driver Mike Weihrouch.

He did a cursory check at the apartments, flashing a light through the windows, which he says have an extreme tint. But he didn't see the girl. She was laying down under a blanket in the last row of the minivan.

It wasn't until he got back to Denver he found the stowaway.

"All of a sudden out of the backseat, her head pops up. And I had to look at it 3 times before I realized it was a small child. I just freaked out," says Weihrouch. Police say all ended well. But it might not have.

"It is never a good idea to leave a child unattended in a car, whether it's running or not, whether it's hot or cold out, whether it's daytime or nighttime. It makes no difference," says Davis. He says the child was in the van for over an hour by the time the family was reunited at the Lakewood Police Department.

"We could have had a totally different ending to this story and the good news is she's okay. She's back home with mom and dad. We can go on from here," he says.

Police say the parents face potential child abuse or child neglect charges.

The family's cousin says they are good parents and they deeply regret what happened.

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