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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Parma Man Accused of Criminal Damage After Breaking Car Window to Save Dogs

Posted By on Tue, Jul 31, 2018 at 12:46 PM

click to enlarge COURTESY OF BARK POST
  • Courtesy of Bark Post

A would-be Good Samaritan is now being hit with criminal charges after breaking a car window Saturday in an attempt to save two dogs in a hot car.

Richard Hill was leaving the Walmart in Parma around 4 p.m. when he noticed people standing around a car concerned for two dogs inside. It was about 78 degrees outside at this time.

According to a report from WKYC Channel 3, Hill said one bystander called 911 while another went into Walmart to ask the vehicle owner to come outside. However, Hill sprung into action grabbing a hammer from his contracting van and broke the window to rescue the dogs moments before the police arrived.

What Hill didn’t know was that the dogs had only been left in the car for eight minutes according to surveillance video, and police cited him for criminal damages upon surveying the scene.

Yet Senate Bill 215, also known as Ohio's "Hot Car" legislation, is meant to serve as a Good Samaritan protection for people who find a child or pet in a hot vehicle, allowing them to intervene by forcibly entering the vehicle prior to emergency personnel responding without the fear of litigation.

On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to 100 degrees in just minutes. While the owner of the car very well could have been making an extremely short trip into the store, there's no guarantee that they would have returned outside before the car turned into a proverbial oven.

"Even with me and two other people tapping on the window, trying to get him to move and do something, he would not move," Hill told Channel 19, describing one of the dogs. "The officer I could tell was already upset with me. He asked me what I was doing, what I did. I explained the situation, and he told me that I should've waited on him."

Punishing Hill sends a dangerous message to other bystanders. But according to Sargent Dan Ciryak, with the Parma Police Department, "in this case we’re not sure this was a matter of life and death."

Ciryak noted that the vehicle's sunroof was open and felt that Hill didn't wait long enough for police to respond. "There was actually 4 minutes from time of call to the time officer had arrived there. It’s a case by case basis so it’s hard to determine and I think you just need to use good judgement," he told Channel 19.

However, according to the Ohio "Hot Car" law, there is nothing that states a samaritan must wait around and do nothing before police arrive after notifying them of the situation.

The owner of the dogs was not cited and Hill plans to fight the charges.

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