A baby thrown from a speeding car was rescued unscathed, but his teenaged parents are now facing charges of child abuse, according to the Merced County Sheriff’s Department.
The 9-month-old baby was taken to Mercy Medical Center in Merced as a precaution and was later handed over to Child Protective Services, said sheriff spokesman Deputy Tom MacKenzie.
The incident began shortly before 2 p.m. Tuesday in the 6700 block of California Street in Winton, when a deputy received a report of a couple involved in a heated argument. According to the witnesses, the pair took off in a gold Mercedes at a high rate of speed and as it turned a corner, the back doors flew open and the baby, who was strapped inside a car seat, came flying out and tumbled along the road.
Witnesses say the couple stopped the vehicle, put the child back into the car and took off again. They gave a description of the vehicle and the names of the two responsible, Gilbert Saavedra, 19, and his 16-year-old girlfriend. Deputies responded to the area but were unable to locate the vehicle, Mackenzie said.
After about an hour and a half later the Mercedes was spotted by a deputy in the area of Santa Fe and Shaffer Road and a vehicle stop was performed. The baby appeared unharmed, MacKenzie said, but as a precaution the infant was taken to the hospital.
The two parents were taken into custody for felony child endangerment. The 16-year-old female also assaulted the CPS worker during questioning about the incident, MacKenzie said.
Saavedra remains jailed in lieu of a $50,000 bail and the juvenile remains in Juvenal Hall without bail.
“Witnesses said the couple left the scene doing approximately 80 mph when the baby flew out, however investigators believe the speed was probably closer to 40 to 50 mph,” MacKenzie said. “If the couple were doing 80 mph, they most likely would not have been able to make the turn. Of course, these are just estimates based on witness’ statements and circumstances of the case.”
Placing children in age and size appropriate seats helps reduce the risk of injury in a crash, however, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it is equally important to make sure the car seat is properly installed and belted in. According to NHTSA statistics, an estimated 85 percent of all car seats in vehicles today are installed improperly. For guidelines on installing car seats visit www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/CPS.