NY fire chief rescues child left alone in hot car

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Newsday

SELDEN, N.Y. — A Mount Sinai man was charged Wednesday with endangering the welfare of a child after he left his 4-year-old daughter in his locked vehicle for 15 minutes in Selden, Suffolk police said.

Juan Pablo Aguilar Varela, 32, of 4 Valiant Court, left the child sleeping in the backseat in his Mercedes-Benz in the Selden Plaza parking lot on Route 25, and went into a T.J. Maxx, police said.

The car was not running and the windows were open about a half-inch.

A 911 caller notified police and flagged down a Selden Fire Department assistant chief shortly before 2 p.m.

Assistant Chief Dave Panebianco said Wednesday he was driving through the parking lot, when the female caller stopped him.

"I could see that she was breathing, but she was definitely sweating," he said an interview.

Panebianco used his radio to contact a dispatcher to call police. He said he wanted to avoid breaking the glass and used a thin metal rod to try to unlock the door, but it didn't work.

Two Selden Fire District employees nearby heard Panebianco's radio call and rushed over to help. The men unsuccessfully again tried to use the metal rod.

One district employee got girl out by forcing his hand through a crack in the window and unlocking the door.

The little girl started crying, Panebianco said.

"She was soaking wet from sweat," he said.

The Selden Fire Department took her to Stony Brook University Hospital as a precaution. Police located Varela in the T.J. Maxx store. He was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday at First District Court in Central Islip.

Suffolk County Child Protective Services was also notified.

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