Police: Dad locked daughter, 4, in car to attend court hearing
CLEARWATER — A 51year-old man was arrested Thursday on a charge of child neglect after police said he left his 4-year-old daughter in a locked car for two hours while he was in court — at a hearing for a domestic violence injunction.
Dean Baaj was arrested at the Pinellas County Courthouse at 315 Court St. Court records show the injunction was being sought against him.
The incident started at 8:45 a.m., police said, when Baaj showed up for the 9 a.m. hearing. He left the 4-yearold girl in a 2004 Mercedes, rolled up the windows and locked the doors, according to Clearwater police, and left the sun roof open.
About 10:45 a.m., police said, passers-by in the parking lot heard the child call for help and told a bailiff inside the courthouse.
The child was freed from the car, examined by paramedics said then released into the custody of her mother.
Baaj was taken into custody and booked into the Pinellas County jail.
The outside temperature when the child was discovered was about 82 degrees, police said. The National Weather Service said it also briefly rained in Clearwater around that time of the morning. The details of the injunction hearing and the judge’s ruling were not known.