LAKE CITY, Fla. – A 1-year-old child may have unknowingly saved his own life with the touch of a button.
According to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were called to an unspecified scene Sunday where they found 43-year-old Kristina Bowermaster sweaty and passed out in the passenger seat. Her 1-year-old son, who was wearing a dirty diaper, was in the driver's seat.
Deputies said the child was playing with his mother's car keys, pressing the red emergency button that alerts OnStar to an issue. A spokesperson for OnStar parent company General Motors said the service's advisor handled the situation as they should have.
"An OnStar Advisor could hear a child in the vehicle, but could not get any information about the situation from the vehicle occupants. Following protocal, the OnStar Advisor stayed on the call while attempting to contact the phone number on file," GM spokesperson Stephanie Lang told News4Jax.
When OnStar could not reach the account holder, the service notified the proper authorities.
"When you push the red emergency button, you'll activate a priority connection to an emergency medical dispatcher-certified advisor," Lang said. "These specially trained avisors can provide medical assistance until first responders arrive at your location."
Deputies believe Bowermaster and her child had been in the car for at least an hour, saying things easily could have turned out much worse had the family not gotten help when they did. Bowermaster told investigators the last thing she remembered was leaving Winn-Dixie about 3 p.m.
A subsequent search of the family's home found drug paraphernalia inside, according to the Sheriff's Office. Deputies said Bowermaster was taken into custody on a child neglect charge. Her children were taken into state custody until a relative arrived to pick them up.
Sunday's episode is not the first time a child used OnStar after being left in a car.
In 2014, Brandon Chambers of Trenton, Georgia, was arrested after his 5-year-old child was left alone in a car for two hours while Chambers hunted. Deputies said it was 31 degrees inside that vehicle. The 5-year-old pressed the OnStar button and when deputies arrived, he told them he was cold.
OnStar is only available on Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles. The safety and security services offered are part of a paid plan. To learn more about the service and its feature, visit the company's website.