SANTA ROSA, California -- A man is being called a community hero by the Santa Rosa Police Department, after finding a toddler, wandering by herself on a rainy night in a parking lot.
Del Hedrick was driving for Lyft on Tuesday night when he dropped off a passenger at an apartment complex in Santa Rosa. As he pulled out of the parking lot, he was shocked at what he saw through his rain-soaked windshield.
"I see a baby, right in front of the car! Rain is pouring, it's 40 degrees outside and I froze. It was scary. It was a really scary moment."
Facebook video posted by Santa Rosa police of Hedrick in his car with the toddler has since gone viral. The girl, believed to be between 18-months and 24-months-old, was alone in the apartment complex parking lot at around 10:30 p.m., scared and crying.
"She was barefoot, soaking wet, onesie soaking, wet hair, full diaper -- yeah it was heartbreaking," says Hedrick.
As a father of two small kids himself, Hedrick says his instincts just kicked into high gear.
"I knocked on a few doors, nobody recognized the baby. 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."
Those who live in the apartment complex say this isn't the first incident of its kind. One neighbor, who didn't want to be identified, says she found a different toddler wandering along two weeks ago.
"The little boy was by himself, no shoes, freezing cold. The little kid was just wandering right in the road and the cars just passed by all the time here so fast," says the woman, as she shook her head.
Police say this case involving the little girl was not neglect or abuse and she most likely wandered out an unlocked door. But if similar incidents are reported and it turns out to be the same family Sargeant Jeneane Kucker says an investigation involving Child Protective Services is possible.
As for Hedrick, who went home that night and hugged his children a little bit tighter than usual says the event made him inconsolable for hours. He has this message for others.
"Just do the right thing. Don't think about it, just do it."
The toddler is now safe at home and doing fine.
Good Samaritan Lyft driver rescues wandering toddler on cold rainy night
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