Breaking into a car to save a child, pet without facing legal consequences

FILE - Hot car (KXAN File Photo)
FILE - Hot car (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the temperatures begin to creep up this week, advocates are at the Capitol making sure laws pass to help prevent hot car deaths.

In Texas, it’s legal to break into a car to save a child, but you could face civil action.

Now, State Rep. Jason Villalba from Dallas says he’s ready to change that.

“A lot of times the concern would be, ‘OK, if I break this window now, are they going to sue me? Am I going to have to come back and pay for this window? Are they going to make some argument that I’m a bad person and I ruined their car?'” Rep. Villalba said. “[With my bill], if there is a child in danger or a furry family member in danger, you can break that window and you will not be charged, criminally or civilly.”

It’s a bill a North Texas father says he stands behind, after he left his son inside a hot car.

“I found Michael. He was left in a hot car June 10, 2015. I left him,” Eric Stuyvesant, the father of 8 says. “It was an auto pilot thing, I got into a routine and the routine was broken and he was left he sat in the car for an hour and a half.”

The toddler suffered 6 strokes and spent 5 days in ICU, another 3 days in the hospital and a whole month in rehab learning basic motor skills and learning how to re-walk. He thinks a bill like Villaba’s could helps another child in the future.

“If it hadn’t happened to me, I would have thought twice about breaking into a car [because of liability], certainly [I would] call 911 but sometimes, those few moments you need to be able to get into that car,” Stuyvesant says. “I don’t ever want to parent to go through and we got to him we were barely hanging on.”

The bill would also free any Good Samaritan from civil or criminal action if they broke in to save a pet.

“Anything that can be done to eliminate some of these situations, we’re going to throw our weight behind it, trying to make it happen,” Stuyvesant said.

The full text of the bill can be found here.

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