EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — While a father spent hours inside a local sports bar, his child was left outside in the car alone Friday night.
Members of a wedding party there that night decided to act when they heard the child’s cries, breaking windows of the car to rescue him.
Township police identified the father as Brandon Morgan, 32, of Atlantic City. He was arrested Saturday and charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
Police went to Chickie’s & Pete’s in the English Creek Shopping Center at 1:30 a.m. Saturday following a call about a child left in a car for an extended period of time.
Police estimated the child, who was about 3 years old, was left in the car for about three hours in 85-degree weather. The car was not running, meaning no air conditioning could flow through the car.
Before officers arrived, bystanders had pulled the child from the car, police said.
Brittany Homan, a waitress at the sports bar, told The Press on Saturday that members of a wedding party celebrating at the restaurant heard the child crying when they stepped outside.
Someone in the group broke a window on the car and removed the child, taking him inside for water, Homan said.
Morgan had been inside with a woman, Homan said. She said police were called and Morgan was arrested.
The township’s ambulance squad found the child to be in good health, police said. The child was turned over to his mother, who was not with Morgan at the sports bar and arrived later.
Morgan was charged and released on a summons with a date to appear in court.
Dr. Thomson Brabson, chairman of emergency services at AtlantiCare, said the dangers of leaving a child in the car include the lack of ventilation and a child’s inability to leave the car.
“They’re basically almost entombing them in an oven, because there’s no ventilation in the car when the windows are all up and the doors are locked,” Brabson said.
There’s also no way for the child to escape the heat, especially if it’s in a safety restraint.
“There’s no source of any water or anything to cool them off, so their body temperature just continues to increase and increase and increase,” he said.
A child can go from just being hot to being hypothermic, Brabson said. They can then experience the very quick stages of heat exhaustion, moving on to experiencing a heat stroke. From there, a child could experience heat-related seizures, which could ultimately be fatal, he said.
There is no exact time period for how long it takes for a child to experience the ill-effects of heat exposure.
Instead, it depends on the length of time and the degree of the exposure. The hotter the temperature, the shorter the period time it could take for the child to succumb to the heat, Brabson said.
Brabson said that this is the case even if a car is parked in the shade because it still depends on the outside heat that gets trapped inside the car with little to no way for it to cool off when unattended.
“The preventative action is very simple. Never leave your child in a car unattended,” Brabson said. “Parents and guardians should always take their children with them, even if it’s going to be for what’s perceived to be only a few seconds or a few minutes of an errand.”