VALRICO, Fla. - When Master Corporal John Seale located the missing Volkswagen SUV and saw little Tinnley Sage West inside, that was the moment the nightmare ended.
It was two hours after the 13-month old had gone missing. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office says her mother Chelsea had been helping her mother-in-law unload items from the car in her Valrico driveway when it happened.
"In less than a minute, because that's all it takes," Chronister said Tuesday. "In less than a minute, because she didn't want to wake up the baby and remove her from the car, someone took advantage and jumped in this car."
Two hours later – and after an AMBER alert was issued – the SUV was discovered in a church parking lot three miles away. Tinnley was still inside.
Body cam video shows Seale opening the door of the vehicle and Tinnley beginning to cry. As Seale takes her out of the car seat, he realizes she’s overheating.
"I don’t know how long it’s been here," Seale says of the vehicle to another deputy. "See if you can get a hold of the church, their offices are right around the corner."
The parents were reunited with their daughter a short time later.
"She was in a deputy’s arms so it was really sweet," said Chelsea. "He had a little kids’ show on for her and he was very sweet. They were all really awesome so just grateful."
Tinnley’s grandfather met with Seale this morning to extend his gratitude. The master corporal was also awarded the chief's challenge coin, a limited edition recognition coin given to HSCSO personnel who exhibit extraordinary performance on the job.
Meanwhile, a home surveillance camera captured the suspect moments before deputies say he stole the car. They’re hoping anyone with information comes forward.