Baby left in locked van for hours, father arrested |

Baby left in locked van for hours, father arrested

BRECKENRIDGE – The father of a toddler left for hours in a van in an employee parking lot in Breckenridge Thursday afternoon has been arrested on child abuse charges, according to the Breckenridge Police Department.

The little girl, who did not need medical attention, was turned over to her mother.

Michael Sanchez of Silverthorne left the child in the van for at least two hours, said local employee Lacey Bartley who first noticed the child and reported the incident to the police.

The child’s mother was not with Sanchez when the child was left in the vehicle.

The toddler was discovered strapped into a car seat in the front seat of the van by Bartley and her boyfriend at approximately 2 p.m. Tuesday.

The couple, on their way to the bank, was planning to call to have the illegally parked van towed when they saw the girl. They called the police 15 minutes later when they returned from the bank and found the child still alone in the vehicle.

“We didn’t know how long she had been in there before we even saw her,” Bartley said.

It took authorities an hour-and-a-half from the time the incident was reported to get the toddler out of the locked van, Bartley said. Meanwhile, Breckenridge police searched shops in the area and were unable to locate Sanchez. He eventually returned to the van after doing an errand in town and was taken into custody, according to Breck police.

He was charged with child abuse with no injury, a misdemeanor. He was not held on bond, but will have to see a judge today.

Temperatures hovered around 18 degrees in Breckenridge Thursday afternoon. Bartley said the girl was wearing a winter coat, but the car was not turned on to provide heat.

In the U.S. in 2010, 49 children who were left in cars died of hypothermia, according to a report from the Department of Geosciences at San Francisco State University. Between 1998 and 2010, 494 children died of hypothermia in vehicles and, of those, 51 percent were “forgotten” by their caregivers.

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