Bystanders, police recognized for saving 2-year-old left in hot car

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — The Greenville community celebrated the life-saving actions of first responders and citizens at a demonstration Tuesday designed to educate the public on the danger posed to children left in hot cars.

Timothy Heinle was having lunch one May afternoon when he was called into action.

“For a few minutes, you don’t really think anything of it,” said Heinle. “You’re in a public place, children cry. But at some point, it started to get concerning enough (that) myself and another number of individuals started looking around and saying, ‘Something’s not right here.’ We started exploring, honestly, and we were very fortunate that we got out to the parking lot and found this child in the car when we did.”

The 2-year-old boy strapped into his car seat was desperate for help, but the door was locked and the window only slightly cracked.

“It was so hot, my hand shot back out,” said Heinle.

Heinle and the others continued to work to get the door open and soon Greenville police officer Elliot Gruhn arrived to remove the child from the car and save his life.

Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Mike Causey, Safe Kids North Carolina, Safe Kids Pitt County, Local Elected Officials, Greenville Police Department and Vidant Health were on hand to recognize Gruhn, Heinle and the other bystanders who made the rescue possible.

Greenville police Chief Mark Holtzman said he hopes the potential tragedy influences others.

“When you park your car in a parking lot, how many of us walk directly into the store?” said Holtzman. “How many of us glance over into that empty car parked next to us to see is there a child left in there? Nobody thinks it will happen, but it can happen.”

And Heinle said it pays to put in the effort to care for your community.

“You spend so much time preaching to others that if they see something, they should say something and be aware of your surroundings,” said Heinle. “I would just encourage other people too. It’s better to be more nosy than to regret not being nosy.”

The temperature measured inside the car the boy was saved from was more than 115 degrees.


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