SHELBY, N.C. - A North Carolina man is now facing child abuse charges after police said he left his toddler in a hot car outside a grocery store in Shelby.
Police said Seth Alan Cuthbertson, 26, left his daughter in the back seat of his car Saturday while he went inside the Aldi on Earl Road to grab groceries.
According to Shelby police, Lt. John Hamrick rescued the girl after a store employee noticed her in the back seat of the car with the engine off and windows up.
"Any time a call comes out with a child involved, all of our instincts are heightened greatly," Hamrick said.
When Hamrick got there, he said the girl was sweating profusely, so he ran inside the store yelling for the girl's parents to help free her.
"The child was asleep," Hamrick said. "The sun was beaming directly on her. There was sweat rolling down her cheeks, and her head was wet."
When no one came forward, he said he used a tool to pry the door open and pulled the girl out.
Officers believe the girl, who is expected to be OK, was left in the car for about 15 minutes.
Once the girl was rescued, officers said they searched through the car for information to help them find her parents and an officer recognized Cuthbertson in a photo with the child as a customer inside the store.
Officers said they approached Cuthbertson, who was on the phone, and asked where his daughter was. That's when he realized he had left his daughter in the car.
According to reports, he told officers he forgot she was back there.
Cuthbertson has been charged with misdemeanor child abuse.
Police said they believe it was an accident, but the coordinator of Safe Kids, Gracie Crowder, said these accidents can be tragic.
"Children's bodies can heat up three to five times faster than an adult," said Crowder. "A car can heat up about 20 degrees within about 10 minutes."
WSOC-TV learned that 37 children have died in hot cars this year nationwide – two in North Carolina.
The latest was in Pineville last month.
Dawn Broecke, 42, was charged with involuntary manslaughter after her foster son was found inside a car at the McMullen Creek Shopping Center off Pineville Matthews Road.
He died at the hospital.