Lifestyle & Human Interest

Driver Spots Toddler Alone in Street in Pouring Rain: 'It Was a Really Scary Moment'


It was dark, wet, and cold last Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. in Santa Rosa, California, and Del Hedrick was doing what many people do: driving for Lyft. But he ran into a scene most people don’t when he dropped off a passenger at an apartment complex and saw a lone toddler scuttling through the night.

“I see a baby, right in front of the car! Rain is pouring, it’s 40 degrees outside and I froze,” he told ABC 7. “It was scary. It was a really scary moment.”

Once he was shaken out of his surprise, he immediately picked up the child, brought her into the safety of his car and called the police. Then, he filmed a video of the situation and posted it to Facebook.

“She was barefoot, soaking wet, onesie soaking, wet hair, full diaper– yeah it was heartbreaking,” he added.

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A father of two himself, no doubt his fatherly instinct kicked him into high gear. How can you encounter a situation like this and not think of your own little loved ones?

It was perfect timing on Hedrick’s part. If he’d gotten there any sooner or any later, that little child might have wandered into harm’s way and the story would have taken a much more tragic turn.

Hedrick tried his best to find her parents, but to no avail. “I knocked on a few doors, nobody recognized the baby,” he said. “I cranked up the heat in the car and tried to warm her up and calm her down. We sat until Santa Rosa PD showed up. They were here in about five minutes.”

The Santa Rosa Police then posted his video and story to their Facebook page.

“Community Hero Alert: Last night, when it was incredibly stormy, Lyft driver Del Hedrick noticed an unaccompanied toddler near the side of the road, in the rain, without sufficient clothing or shoes. He escorted her out of harm’s way and called SRPD for assistance.”

“Del, with the child safely in tow, searched the nearby apartment complex for an open door or any sign of the child’s family. When the responding officer arrived, Del had still not been able to locate the child’s caretaker but was keeping her warm and safe inside his vehicle. The officer resumed the search with the child, and was finally able to reunite her with her family.”

“Del Hedrick’s actions demonstrate how we all work together to keep our community safe. His initiative to shelter the toddler and help reunite her with her family is both heartening and inspiring. On behalf of the Santa Rosa Police Department and our community, thank you for helping a member of our community in-need. It is because of people like you that our community is #SantaRosaStrong.”

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Thankfully, she was reunited with her parents and is now safe. There are many who criticized her parents in comments online, but there are also plenty of people who’ve stepped in to say that even the best parents experience mishaps like this.

Sometimes kids figure out how to open doors before you know they can, and young children have no sense of danger, which can lead to some terrifying situations.

Thankfully for all involved, this story ended on a good note and Santa Rosa has a confirmed new hero.

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