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Good Samaritan law moving along in Nebraska Legislature

Posted at 6:49 PM, Mar 05, 2020

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Right now in Nebraska, if somebody breaks a car window on a hot day to save a stuck child from a vehicle, they could be held criminally and civilly liable.

A bill in the legislature would change that, giving immunity to anybody that breaks open a car to save a child. It's sponsored by Senator Bruce Bostelman, who did this after a woman in her district lost her son.

"Went to work, didn't realize the child was in the car and found the child in the car afterwards and the child had passed,” says Bostelman, who’s district includes Butler, Saunders and Colfax County.

So now they both want to make sure this slip of the mind doesn't cause another child to die in Nebraska.

“This could happen to any parent unfortunately, it just takes a split second of a routine change or anything else. You're in a hurry, and then you forget your child is in the seat and you go to work and they're still in there,” says Travis Hedlund, injury prevention coordinator at Children’s Hospital.

Ric Voelker with the Nebraska Safety Council used to be a cop and pulled two kids out of cars because of extreme heat. Both survived, but he hasn't forgotten the close calls.

"You're sitting there and the child is crying and it's not old enough to get out of the car seat and you can tell it's uncomfortable and those images just burn into your brain,” says Voelker.

Voelker says anybody in Nebraska is allowed to provide first aid to somebody choking.

"If I break a rib, I don't have to worry about going to jail for assault. But under Nebraska law, there's that criminal damage to property issue, this would take that and make that go away,” says Voelker.

Travis Hedlund with Children's Hospital says if the bill passes and becomes law in July, he wants all Nebraskans to be on the lookout and be willing to help out.

"So we really want the citizenry to be active and making sure they're looking out for the best interest of their children everywhere," says Hedlund.