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Police arrest man in carjacking with toddler in back seat

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SALT LAKE CITY — A man suspected of stealing a vehicle with a 1-year-old boy sitting in the back seat Saturday night remained hospitalized Sunday.

The 21-year-old man, whose name has not yet been released, suffered injuries in a car crash while trying to flee police, said Salt Lake Police Lt. Robin Heiden.

The carjacking occurred about 9 p.m. Saturday. A woman had parked her car near 800 South and 900 West and left her toddler inside while she knocked on the door of a residence on that street.

A man then jumped inside the car and drove off with the child still in the back seat, Heiden said.

About 30 minutes later, the child was located safe at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray after nurses alerted police that a man had dropped off the boy, Heiden said.

The man told hospital staff he had found the child abandoned at a nearby 7-Eleven, said hospital spokesman Jess Gomez.

"He was pretty nervous; he was sweaty and looked eager to get out of there," Gomez said. "He told staff he was going to go out and grab a bag for the child, exited the lobby, went out to the car and then left the campus."

Soon after, officers brought the mother to the hospital where she was reunited with her son.

"He was a little scared but really happy to see his mom again," Gomez said.

Police then continued their search for the man. Later Saturday night, police located the vehicle at near 3300 South and West Temple and attempted to stop the man, but he kept driving, Heiden said.

Police terminated the pursuit near 700 West, but found him again about 10 blocks away.

"And that's when he ended up crashing into the median in the middle of the road," Heiden said.

The man sustained "non-life-threatening injuries" and was taken to a hospital in good condition.

The lieutenant said once he is released, she expects he will be booked into jail for investigation of kidnapping, stealing a vehicle and fleeing, as well as on unrelated outstanding warrants.

"I think the biggest thing we need to take from last night is just don't leave your child unattended in the car, even if it's just a split second," Heiden said Sunday. "This is a perfect example of what can happen."

Contributing: Alison Berg

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