A Florida toddler was abandoned on the side of a road after the car he had been sleeping in was stolen within a “couple of seconds.”
The theft occurred Thursday morning when the 3-year-old’s parents pulled into a driveway and ran inside to check on an elderly relative while the child remained in the SUV, sleeping in his car seat.
The heartless suspect then crossed the street, jumped in the driver’s seat, and drove away with the precious cargo.
“I took off and chased him on foot for about a hundred yards, deemed I wasn’t going to catch him, called 9-1-1, got into my grandfather’s truck and tried to catch him but he was gone by then,” the toddler’s father Taylor Hetznecker told WESH 2 News.
The boy’s mother, Amber Clark, called the police frantically screaming that her child was just stolen.
“Someone took my car with my baby in it!” Clark said in the 911 call obtained by the news station.
Surveillance footage showed the suspect stopping at an industrial area, where he pulled the child from the back seat and placed him next to a parked car before he drove off.
The child remained on the side of the street until a man, who was heading to a nearby storage unit, noticed the kid and realized something was wrong.
“I looked to my right and there was a child about five feet off the road and I knew that didn’t look right,” Darrell Everman recalled. “I was concerned, he looked like he needed help, and I was glad I was there to help him.
“I didn’t see any parents around so I decided I should stop and check on him and tried to figure out where his parents were, I couldn’t so I called 911,” Everman added.
Volusia County police later arrived and found the unharmed child laying on a horse-printed blanket, wearing red pajamas as deputies attempted to calm him down with an Elmo toy, according to body cam footage.
“We are relieved we have him, the car is just a car,” Clark said after being reunited with her son.
Holly Hill Police honored Everman at a community watch meeting on Thursday, where the man was hailed as a hero.
“This guy deserves a round of applause because he is a hero, he’s a hero,” Holly Hill Police Chief Jeff Miller said.
Everman, who was thankful he was put in the right place to help the young boy, had been homeless for some time, living out of his car and was invited to the meeting for dinner, where he was rewarded with gifts.
“I’ve gotten gift certificates, they’re talking about an oil change. They’re going to help me find some employment, maybe,” Everman said.
Police are still looking for the suspect, who is described as a young male between the ages of 15 to 20, last seen wearing a white hat, black hoodie and black shorts.
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