Breaking into a hot car to save a child legal in Hillsborough County

Good Samaritan law provides protection for rescuer

We’ve seen it way too many times lately: Children being left in hot cars.

Sixteen of them have died already this year.

Now one state is giving you the OK to smash out a car window if you see a child inside.

"My way is I open the door first cause everything’s automatic in cars these days so you never know," said Deborah Lopez.

Lopez is living her dream these days.

"This my first granddaughter, first grand baby period," said Lopez with a prideful smile.

Since her daughter and son-in-law both serve in the military, this lucky lady gets to dote on her little blessing all day long, with short walks, trips to the park and, of course, shopping.

"I also keep my purse in the back seat, that way when I do get out, I’m forced to see her," Lopez said.

And she has good reason to be so careful. Last year 48 children were killed nationwide after being left in a hot car.

"With the temperatures we see today it only takes minutes for that car to elevate the temperature enough to kill a child," said Larry McKinnon, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

Unfortunately the numbers are already on the rise this year. That’s why states like Tennessee are taking such drastic steps to end these heartbreaking tragedies.

"I would break the window to get the baby regardless, legal or not," said one woman we spoke with.

That’s exactly what the new law makes legal, allowing anyone to break a window to save a child’s life and, it turns out, Florida has a similar law.

"Florida has what’s called a Good Samaritan law where anytime you act within the scope of your training, you can provide emergency care for anyone," McKinnon said.

That makes it legal for any Florida resident to break a window in an emergency. Police said the best way to do it is to go to a window farthest from the child and use a small tool called a "punch."

For Lopez, the cost of breaking a window is nothing compared to the loss of a child.

“They depend on us, they don’t have a voice right now,” said Lopez.

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