Off-duty firefighter saves unresponsive child from hot car

MT. PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - Authorities have arrested a 39-year-old man after police discovered an unresponsive and unconscious child in a locked car at a Mount Pleasant parking lot.

Police say was an off-duty firefighter who noticed the child as he was leaving the Memorial Waterfront Park.

"As I backed out I noticed a kid slumped over and that's when I kind of felt something was wrong," Sullivan's Island Firefighter Matthew Morgan said.

Morgan said he started banging on the car trying to wake the child but said he didn't stir.

"He was slumped in his car seat buckled in with a neck pillow and just didn't move at all to some serious banging and yelling," Morgan said.

He then got on his department radio and alerted emergency crews to the location.

He said within a minute a Mt. Pleasant Police Officer arrived and, just as Morgan had done, checked to see if any doors were unlocked and began banging on the window trying to alert the child.

During this time, another officer used his baton and broke the passenger side front window in order to get in and open the rear side door to get to the child.

"You hear about it on the news and stuff but to see it it just kind of dumbfounds you, it's Charleston and people know it gets extremely hot here," said Morgan.

In the police report it says the temperature was at 85 degrees and high humidity. The report also said the child had been in the car five to ten minutes.

According to police, the child did not have any sweat on his face, but felt "really warm" and was placed in the front seat of a patrol car to allow the AC to cool him down. The child was also given a bottle of water. An officer said the child was crying as if he was scared.

Police charged Clark Carl Riggins of Mount Pleasant with unlawful conduct towards a child.

Responding Mt. Pleasant police officers were able to wake the child up, and located Riggins who authorities say returned to his car after seeing police cars in the parking lot.

Officers then spoke to Riggins and eventually arrested and charged him.

Riggins told police the child did not want to go with him so he left the child in the vehicle.

A report states the suspect told the officer he went to a location for track practice and came back to his car because he saw police vehicles with lights on.

According to Kids and Cars dot com, on average 37 kids die from heat related deaths after being trapped inside vehicles.

A good reminder for parents, Look Before You Lock.

Get in the habit of always opening the back door to check the back seat before leaving your vehicle. Make sure no child has been left behind.

For Morgan who just happened to be at that same park at the same time the child was unconscious, "To me it's just doing the job on a day to day basis."

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