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Father Who Left 2 Children Alone in Car Is Sentenced

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Sun Valley man who left his two young children alone in a parked car that burst into flames was sentenced Wednesday in Van Nuys Municipal Court to 160 hours of community service and ordered to attend classes in child care.

Manuel Banda, 27, was sentenced after entering a no-contest plea to a charge of child endangerment, according to Deputy City Atty. Kenneth Tso.

Banda parked his 1978 auto in a grocery store parking lot in the 11300 block of Saticoy Street about 8 p.m. on May 15, and went into the market to buy a money order, leaving his 3 1/2-year-old stepson and 16-month-old daughter in the car, the prosecutor said.

While he was in the store, the car erupted in flames, police said. An employee of the market, who had been collecting shopping carts in the lot, saw the fire and ran back into the store, Tso said.

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Alerted by an announcement over the store’s public address system, Banda ran outside and, with the help of a store employee wielding a fire extinguisher, pulled the children from the car.

Both children suffered severe smoke inhalation and minor facial burns. They were briefly hospitalized but have recovered fully, Tso said.

The fire began under the dashboard, behind the radio and air-conditioner controls, according to Los Angeles Fire Department investigators, who said they found badly burned electrical wires that had been cut, but left in place, after removal of an unknown piece of equipment.


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