TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Deputies arrested a Florida grandfather after Hertz car rental employees found a toddler inside a returned vehicle at Daytona Beach International Airport, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies at the airport were called to the Hertz rental lot around 6 p.m. after one of the employees told authorities the toddler was found in a locked vehicle in the car return lot.
When deputies arrived, they found the employee holding the child, whose face was “warm and streaked with dried tears,” authorities said, adding that the toddler was still breathing normally.
The child, just under the age of 2, was scared and hot, but otherwise in good health when checked by paramedics.
According to officials, the vehicle had been returned approximately 45 minutes earlier, at 5:13 p.m.
When airport staff tried to reach out to the driver, their calls were unsuccessful. However, a call came in from the child’s mother who had just learned the child’s grandfather left the toddler in the rental car – not at his home, as he’d told her.
Through interviews and airport security video footage, detectives confirmed that 62-year-old David Towner, of Port Orange, was babysitting his granddaughter for the day and left her in the rental vehicle when he returned it.
Authorities said Towner was remorseful and cooperative with deputies but was charged with one count of child neglect and transported to the Volusia County Branch Jail.
The temperature in the unshaded parking lot at the time of the incident was approximately 80 degrees, deputies said in the release.
The child was returned to her mother and the Department of Children and Families was notified of the incident.
The Hertz employees involved in the incident will receive citizens’ awards for their actions.