Mom arrested in heat-related death of 6-month infant

DAVID L. TEIBEL

Tucson Citizen

June 30, 2003

 

Tucson police answering a 911 call Sunday found a 6-month-old girl in a parked car dead of apparent heat stroke.

 

Police arrested Dalina Gutierrez, 21, of the 4000 block of East 25th Street, in the death of her daughter, Alejandra Gutierrez.

 

Dalina Gutierrez was booked into the Pima County Jail on suspicion of child abuse, said Sgt. Judy Altieri, a police spokeswoman. Gutierrez was being held without bail pending an initial court appearance Monday afternoon in the case, Altieri said.

 

A jail records clerk said Gutierrez did not list an occupation when she was booked.

 

Altieri said Gutierrez had been out early Sunday morning and had picked up her three children, a 6-year-old, a 3-year-old girl and Alejandra, about 5 a.m. from Gutierrez' mother's house. The 6-year-old's gender was not available.

 

Altieri would not comment on where Gutierrez had been before going to her mother's house.

 

Gutierrez drove home, but when she arrived she left the infant in the car, Altieri said.

 

The child was not found until about 10:30 a.m., she said.

 

Gutierrez told detectives she forgot the child was in the car, went into her home and went to sleep, Altieri said.

 

Gutierrez also told detectives when she woke up she remembered her daughter was in the car, went outside and found Alejandra "in obvious distress," Altieri said.

 

Officers found the child in the car after two calls came in, police said.

 

Alejandra was taken to Tucson Medical Center, but was dead on arrival, Altieri said. She said medical authorities told officers it appeared to be a heat-related death. An autopsy was being done this morning.

 

At 10 a.m. Sunday the temperature was 92 degrees and 96 degrees at 10:30 a.m.

 

Greg Mollere, a National Weather Service meteorologist, estimated that at that temperature a closed car would get above 110 degrees within about 15 to 20 minutes. At the height of the day, with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, he said, the interior of a car probably would quickly hit 130 degrees.

 

The first call police got from the area of the 4000 block of East 25th Street, where Alejandra was found, was a 911 hang-up call, in which some one called the emergency number, but hung up before providing a detailed reason for the call, officers said.

 

The second call was from a woman who screamed for help, officers said.

 

Officers were sent to the area on a "check welfare call" to try to determine what was wrong in the area and they found the dead child, police said.