Couple faces child endangerment charges after baby falls from moving car

The parents of an 9-month-old baby were arrested on suspicion of felony child endangerment Tuesday after their child flew out the rear door of the couple's car.

The incident was reported before 2 p.m. after deputies received a call about an arguing couple in the 6700 block of California Street in Winton, according to Deputy Tom MacKenzie, sheriff's spokesman.

The couple took off at a high rate of speed in their gold Mercedes, according to witnesses. When they turned the corner out of their apartment complex, witnesses said, a back door flew open, and the baby boy, who was in a car seat, came out of the car and rolled over several times on the ground.

Witnesses said the couple stopped the car, put the child back into the car and took off again. They gave a description of the car and provided the names of suspects Gilbert Saavedra, 19, and his 16-year-old girlfriend.

According to witnesses, the car was going about 80 mph when the child came out of the car, but deputies said the speed was probably closer to 40-50 mph.

Deputies responded to the area, but were unable to locate the car.

After about 90 minutes, Deputy Ken Jew spotted the Mercedes at Santa Fe Drive and Shaffer Road and made a vehicle stop. The child was inside the car and was taken to Mercy Medical Center as a precaution. MacKenzie said the baby appeared to be unharmed.

The 16-year-old girl assaulted a county Child Protective Services worker during questioning about the incident, authorities said in a press release.

Saavedra was booked into the Merced County Jail, while the girl, who is also facing assault charges, was booked into juvenile hall. He's being held in lieu of $50,000 bail, while she's being held without bail. The baby is being cared for by Merced County Child Protective Services.

Managing Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsun-star.com.