911 Dispatcher Disciplined for Not Helping Baby Locked in Hot Car

Frantic mom called 911 after son locked himself in the car.

August 26, 2014, 2:43 PM

— -- A Florida police dispatcher will be disciplined for not offering help to a frantic mother whose toddler son had locked himself inside her broiling car, officials said today.

Shana Dees had just left a Tampa drug store on Saturday when she strapped her 10-month-old son in the backseat of the car and shut the door, she told WFTS, ABC’s Tampa Bay affiliate. She quickly realized baby Jack, who often plays with her keys, had them in his hands – but it was too late. He hit a button that locked the doors, trapping himself inside the car on a day the temperature reached 95 degrees.

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Dees, whose purse was also locked inside the car, used a stranger’s cell phone to call 911, she said.

“Can somebody come out and open the door? I don’t even know if that is something you guys do,” she says in the 911 recording, obtained by ABC News.

A passerby used a wrench to smash the passenger side window in Shana Dees' car to help get her 10-month-old son Jack out of the locked vehicle.
A passerby used a wrench to smash the passenger side window in Shana Dees' car to help get her 10-month-old son Jack out of the locked vehicle. Shana Dees' 10-month-old son Jack was accidentally locked in her car in New Tampa, Florida on Aug. 23, 2014.
Jacqueline Ingles/WFTS

The dispatcher wasn’t very helpful.

“They won’t be able to try to gain access [to the] car unless the child is in some kind of distress, and, well, by that point they may just smash your windows.”

Dees watched as her son turned red and began to sweat, she told WFTS.

The Tampa Police Department says the dispatcher handled the situation poorly.

“He is going to be disciplined,” Andrea Davis, a police spokesperson, told ABC News. “He should have been more aggressive and asked location.”

Davis pointed out that the dispatcher did not refuse to send an officer to the scene. Dees ended the call, she said.

Eight minutes later, an off-duty police officer noticed Dees panicking and called 911 again, according to the local report.

He explained that Dees was told police wouldn’t help, and a dispatcher told him that information was wrong and that police would help, according to a recording of that phone call.

Another bystander eventually helped Dees break the window and free Jack.

The police department says the investigation is ongoing. Meanwhile, the dispatcher is on administrative duty instead of answering 911 calls, Davis said.

An average of 38 children die in hot cars every year, according to KidsAndCars.org.

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