Father arrested after 3-year-old rescued from burning car

An Omaha man was arrested after firefighters said they found his 3-year-old daughter in the backseat of the car when they were called to extinguish the vehicle.
Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 11:52 PM CST

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A Nebraska man was arrested after firefighters say they found his 3-year-old daughter in the back seat of his burning car when they were called to extinguish the vehicle.

The Sunday night incident seemed like a standard car fire on Saddle Creek Road and California Street in Omaha. The car was stopped in the street, and there was a lot of smoke. Someone called 911.

The driver, identified as 29-year-old Mark McLemore, had locked his keys in the car. So, firefighters had to break a window, pop the hood and find the source of the smoke. They asked if anyone was inside the car, and McLemore did not indicate there was, according to prosecutors.

After firefighters soaked the car in water to keep the fire from spreading, investigators say they noticed a 3-year-old girl in the back seat without a car seat. WOWT reports that, thankfully, the girl was alive.

“Terrified, of course. Not harmed by the extinguisher but certainly very upset and pretty scared,” said Douglas County Chief Deputy Attorney Brenda Beadle about the girl.

McLemore went before a judge Tuesday morning. He faces felony child neglect and abuse charges, as well as a drunken driving charge. Investigators say his blood alcohol level was 2.5 times the legal limit to drive.

“To not alert the authorities that, ‘Yes, there’s a child in the car. Help me” is probably the most shocking part of it,” Beadle said.

McLemore remains in the Douglas County Jail on a $50,000 bond. If he posts bond, the judge has ordered him to have no contact with the 3-year-old.