Police say the 3-year-old girl's father went to work at Don Rey restaurant in southwest Houston around 9 a.m. Monday, leaving her in the backseat when she should have been dropped off at a daycare.
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When the girl's mother didn't find her at the school around 4:15 p.m., she called her husband, frantically looking for her daughter.
But unlike similar stories, the couple's daughter was found alive. She was conscious, but dehydrated.
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"Thank God that kid was safe," HPD Officer John Williams said. "Thank God her life was still here."
A metal carport behind the restaurant, where the father parked his car, possibly made all the difference, keeping temperatures inside the vehicle lower than if it had been parked under the beaming sun.
Still, the child was rushed to the hospital and in need of immediate medical attention.
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The Harris County District Attorney's office told our sister station ABC13 in Houston they have not made any decisions about whether the girl's father will face any charges.
Officer Williams says many parents believe this couldn't happen to them, but one mistake could end in tragedy.
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Williams urged parents to look before you lock, even suggesting a creative way to remember when the kids are in the car by leaving something in the backseat: your left shoe, for example.
"Silly compared to your child, but I will do that every day," Williams said.
Diana Martinez, with Texas Children's Hospital Center for Childhood Injury Prevention, agreed the reminders are a smart way to ensure the kids aren't left behind.
She says a child's body can heat up three to five times faster than an adult when left in a hot car.