Florida grandfather charged after rental car employee discovers toddler left behind in vehicle

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A Florida grandfather has been charged with one count of child neglect after allegedly leaving his granddaughter in a rental car he returned to the Daytona Beach International Airport.  

The girl, just under two years old, was the hot vehicle Monday for at least 45 minutes, the Volusia Sheriff’s Office said.

The grandfather, 62-year-old David Towner, made his first court appearance Tuesday afternoon, according to FOX 35 Orlando.

Deputies say they were alerted to the incident by a Hertz Car Rental employee around 6 p.m. Monday after the employee reported the toddler was found in a locked vehicle in the car return lot. When deputies arrived, they found the employee carrying the child, whose face was warm and streaked with dry tears but was breathing normally.

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Employees at a car rental lot at Daytona Beach International Airport discovered a toddler who was left in the back seat of a returned vehicle for about 45 minutes.

Employees at a car rental lot at Daytona Beach International Airport discovered a toddler who was left in the back seat of a returned vehicle for about 45 minutes.
(Volusia Sheriff’s Office)

“The child was scared and hot, but thankfully in good health when checked by paramedics,” a news release said. 

The temperature in the unshaded parking lot at the time of the incident was about 80 degrees.

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David Towner, 62, is charged with child neglect. 

David Towner, 62, is charged with child neglect. 
(Volusia Sheriff’s Office)

The vehicle had been returned at 5:13 p.m., and deputies and airport staff initially were not able to make contact with the driver. A call then came in from the child’s mother, who learned what had happened and was on her way to the airport to be reunited with her child.

“He said that he had my daughter at the house, and he left my daughter in the rental car. I’m going to meet them at the airport. I’m going as fast as I can,” the mother reportedly said. 

A still from Volusia Sheriff's Office body camera footage shows a toddler being checked out by paramedics after being left in a hot rental car in Florida. 

A still from Volusia Sheriff’s Office body camera footage shows a toddler being checked out by paramedics after being left in a hot rental car in Florida. 
(Volusia Sheriff’s Office)

Towner was reportedly remorseful and cooperative with deputies during the investigation. He was babysitting his granddaughter for the day because the girl’s daycare facility was closed due to the Columbus Day holiday, according to an arrest report obtained by FOX 35. A judge set Towner’s bond at $2,500 and ordered him to not contact the child.

The child was returned to her mother and the Department of Children and Families was notified of the incident.   

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“We’re grateful for the actions of our Hertz teammates and glad the child is safe,” a spokesperson said to FOX 35.  

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood plans to issue citizens awards to the Hertz employees involved in the incident.



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