I failed as a “hero” today


Back in February 2015 we had a scare in Utah. A car was stolen with a 3-year-old little girl (Bella Martinez) in the back. According to a press release from South Salt Lake police, the car was stolen outside of a 7-Eleven. Police also said the suspect frequents that 7-Eleven. As the story goes, the driver of the car parked and was approached by the suspect who asked him for a cigarette – which he provided. The driver then exited the vehicle and went into the store. When he returned the car – and the child – were gone.

The man driving the car with the child inside pulled up to the store, and at that time the suspect rode up on a bicycle and asked that man for a cigarette, which he gave her. He went inside the store, and when he returned the car and child were gone.

“Unfortunately he left his vehicle running. The suspect was seen leaving in the car, eastbound from this location… This probably took a matter of seconds for this vehicle and child to go missing.” – Gary Keller, South Salt Lake Police Department

Thankfully, after Utah’s first cell-phone Amber Alert, the abandoned car – and little girl – were found safe outside a cupcake shop.


This morning I stopped by my local 7-Eleven. While at the register I noticed a woman exit her SUV and enter the store. I finished up my transaction and noticed a small girl in the back of the SUV – alone.

My neck of the woods is significantly less prone to criminal activity than the area from which Bella Martinez was taken, but it’s still a universally stupid idea to leave your small child, unattended, in a running car.

I decided to quietly sit and observe. Since I knew who had exited the vehicle, I could intervene if need be, should someone else attempt to leave with the vehicle – and the child.

That didn’t happen. The woman (who I suspect is the little girl’s 50-something-year-old grandmother) returned, got in her SUV, and drove away. I left and headed in to work. That’s where I told some co-workers what had happened.

“You Failed”

More than one co-worker asked if I called the police. Another asked if I approached the woman to tell her what she’d done, and the risk she’d put the child in.

No. I didn’t do either. I just made sure the right adult got back in the. I made sure the child was safe.

While I still think calling the police would have been a waste of resources and an inappropriate response, I agree that I should have done something more.

Sure, I made sure a little girl wasn’t abducted, but the woman who abandoned her, even if it was “only for a minute”, probably doesn’t realize the error of her ways and will probably put that little girl at risk again – and that time a good-samaritan may not be present to make sure the little girl stays safe.

I failed as a “hero” today. Hopefully my failure will resonate with some of you. Stand up for what’s right. Speak out. Do so respectfully, but with the emphasis appropriate to the situation.

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