A Maryland father was arrested and received multiple charges after state police rescued his 14-month-old little girl who was left alone in his running car in front of Harrington Raceway & Casino for an estimated 30 minutes. Casino surveillance footage was used to approximate the time that the child spent alone in the car.
"State police charged the father, Justin Middleton, 26, of Preston, Md., with first-degree reckless endangering, unattended motor vehicle and parking in a handicapped space without a permit, said Master Cpl. Gary Fournier," reports the USA Today.
"About noon, the manager alerted police that a baby was in a car parked in a handicapped spot with the engine running. The manager told police a patron had spotted the 2012 Ford Fusion running, then saw the baby in a car seat, he said," the USA Today further reports.
"According to court records, the car seat was 'in an upside down position on the floor behind the front passenger seat,'" the USA Today details. "A green sweatshirt covered the baby's lower body, police said, noting that the sweatshirt could have shifted and suffocated the baby. The car was not locked and troopers easily removed the baby, who did not appear to be in distress or need medical attention, Fournier said."
The vehicle's owner was paged and arrested at the car an estimated 90 minutes later.
Middleton denied leaving his daughter in the car, claiming that her mother had abandoned her while he unknowingly gambled. He later admitted to police that he had lied.
The child was turned over to a relative by officials, until the mother could get to her.
Anti-casino advocate John Ribeiro of Massachusetts informs the USA Today, "The problem of addicted parents leaving children in cars while they gamble is so widespread that many casinos post signs in their parking lots warning them of the dangers and penalties."
Middleton failed to post his $2,505 bail and was transported to Vaughn Correctional Center. A no contact order is in place to protect his daughter.