Md. Man Catches Train But Forgets Tot in Car

By Nancy Trejos
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 24, 2006

Jonathan Sander, a 33-year-old North Potomac resident, was on the Metro yesterday heading for work in the District when he suddenly realized he had left something crucial behind: his 7 1/2 -month-old daughter.

Sander arrived at the Shady Grove Metro station about 7 a.m. to begin his usual commute, only this time with his baby girl, whom he is normally not responsible for taking care of in the mornings, said Lt. Eric Burnett, a Montgomery County police spokesman.

Sander parked in a garage and got on a Red Line train. His daughter, whose name police did not release, remained in the back seat of his Volkswagen Passat in a car seat.

At some point during his commute, Sander realized what he had done, got off the southbound train and headed back to Shady Grove, police said.

"People go to work. They have a lot on their minds. It just happens," Burnett said, describing Sander as "panicked, to say the least."

By then, commuters on the second level of the Shady Grove station's east garage had noticed the baby. They called for help, and firefighters soon arrived, removing the baby from the car before 8 a.m.

Firefighters and Metro Transit Police were still there when Sander arrived, Burnett said. He was given a written criminal citation for leaving a child under age 8 unattended. He could face a $500 fine, up to 30 days in jail or both.

"There is no way this was intentional. No way, at least not in my mind," Burnett said. He added: "You have people who leave their kids and go off for hours at a time and go shopping. That's intentional."

The baby was taken to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, where she was determined to be in good condition, he said.

Officials from Child Protective Services interviewed her parents and concluded that Sander, who lives in the 11100 block of Rutledge Drive, had not intended to leave his child.

They returned the baby to her mother.

Phone calls to Sander were not returned last night.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company