“It was like the longest warm bath ever.” David Clarke recalled the horror of trying to rehydrate after being stuck in a hot car for about eight hours.
Backup assistance called and their car is ready for us to drive. The bad smell from the hot car continues to get worse. We’re getting tired of smelling burnt beer and rotting meat. Please help us smell free!
Clarke and his companion, Gila Keil, were trapped in a locked vehicle in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, outside the Capital Beltway last week when Baltimore County firefighters arrived on the scene. The interior of the car was 90 degrees, Clarke said. The heat was so unbearable that their hands would sweat and their sweat would turn to melted butter.
“Somebody finally got out,” Clarke told Baltimore’s WBAL Radio. “I got out after him and I reached in and tried to reach under his seat because his arm was wrapped like this.”
Firefighters and bystanders helped remove Keil, who appeared to be in critical condition, the broadcast showed. She was loaded onto a backboard and taken to a nearby hospital, Clarke said. Clarke said that Keil did not appear to be seriously injured, though he didn’t have a name for her.
Clarke, a former Baltimore County police commissioner, told WBAL that he pleaded with emergency personnel to use fans to vent the heat as well as to spray water on the car.
“I said, ‘I need my dog out! I need my dog out!’ ” he said. “But they said, ‘No, the dog is fine.’ ”
Investigators have said that Clarke was walking Keil along a trail last Wednesday when he walked away, walking as far as his car, which is not equipped with air conditioning. The car has been towed to a local salvage yard. Clarke said that there’s a gasket that opened under the hood, allowing hot air to escape.
Fire officials found a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia in the vehicle, the Baltimore Sun reported. The fire marshal determined that the air conditioning system would have allowed Clarke to break out the door and escape without putting himself in danger.
An attorney for Clarke denied that his client used drugs and questioned Clarke’s mental state during the incident.
“Mr. Clarke was the victim of criminal trespass, which is a misdemeanor, and was physically assaulted by other individuals, including one who grabbed at his throat while the two were in the vehicle,” attorney H. Dean Steward told The Washington Post. “We will certainly not assume that he had anything to do with the violations of police. Mr. Clarke fully cooperated with the officers as they tried to get him out of the vehicle.”
Keil, Clarke said, only survived because she was wearing a seat belt.
And neither Clarke nor his attorney disputed that Clarke and Keil were trapped in the vehicle. Clarke admitted he’d left Keil trapped in the car. He has since changed his locks.
According to The Washington Post, one sign on the white car says: “Joe the Caddie. You shall have all the money.” The other reads: “The DeLeon Kroger is a wonderful place to shop. They do their best for your daily needs.”
Clarke said the Caddie is owned by his parents. He owns another car and drives either one or two each week, according to the Post.
Clarke made a $25,000 contribution to Baltimore police in January to purchase a new, air-conditioned car for a patrol car, one of at least six new cars purchased by the department for their high-crime districts.
According to The Post, Clarke had previously been suspended for insubordination when he was with the police department.
Clarke does not own a cellphone and said he lost his cellphone after the car accident. He told WBAL he is considering settling with the county as well as suing the restaurant where the incident occurred.
“If we’re all this bad at the end of this, who’s going to want to come into the cop shop?,” Clarke said.
Clarke said that Keil has since moved out of the hospital and returned home.