UTA officer recounts rescue of child left in locked car in downtown SLC

SALT LAKE CITY -- A UTA officer recounted the heartbreaking details when he and his partner broke into a car to save a child inside.

The mom, who police later arrested, is accused of leaving the toddler alone in the hot car in the Rio Grande area Wednesday afternoon.

Officer Bryce Okland said a man flagged he and his partner down at the UTA station near 300 South, saying a child was locked in a car nearby and she looked like she needed help.

He said they immediately drove over to the car, which was parked on 300 South near 500 West, and saw the baby restrained in a car seat.

Salt Lake City Police later said with temperatures in the 70s, the car had the potential to reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit inside, and that those kinds of temperatures can put children in danger.

Officer Okland said the witness estimated the child had been locked in the car for around 30 minutes. His partner got out a tool to unlock the car.

"Got the bar through the window and were able to hit the unlock button, open up the back door," he explained. "As soon as we opened up the back door, the girl reached her arms out to be picked up."

He said the 21-month old girl was okay, she just wanted to be held.

"We held her for about an hour, she didn't want to be put down," he said. "She was in good condition, but just wanted to be held."

He and his partner, along with firefighters, took care of the girl for the next couple hours.

Later that evening, the girl's mother, 36-year old Akilah Davis, returned to the car and police arrested her for felony child abandonment and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

Though Officer Okland and his partner were responsible for getting the girl to safety, he credits the good Samaritan who noticed the child in the first place and alerted UTA.

He even said the witness happened to have an Elmo doll that he gave the little girl while police waited for child protective services to pick her up.