Affidavit: Boy died in van, was moved to playground

05:50 PM CDT on Tuesday, August 1, 2006

By MARGARITA MARTÍN-HIDALGO / The Dallas Morning News

Jacob Fox, the 4-year-old Dallas boy who succumbed to heatstroke July 20, apparently died inside a van outside his Pleasant Grove day care center and was then moved to the Balch Springs playground where the center's director called 911, according to a Balch Springs police affidavit.

Jacob Fox The affidavit says Jacob's mother told police that day care owner Blynithia Washington picked Jacob up in the day care van at 7 a.m., but he apparently didn't get off when the van reached the day care center. When his brother noticed him missing "sometime after lunch," according to the affidavit, an employee of the Dream House Learning Center went outside and found Jacob, apparently already dead, in the driver’s seat of the van at 10121 Lake June Road.

The affidavit doesn't say how Jacob's body got to Kidstown Pavilion in Balch Springs, and Police Chief Phillip Prasifka wouldn't elaborate.

But Ms. Washington called 911 to summon emergency workers to the park about 2:15 p.m., and emergency workers found Jacob in the shade of a piece of playground equipment. Jacob was pronounced dead at 2:59 p.m. at Medical Center of Mesquite.

Temperatures at Love Field reached 100 degrees around noon that day and never exceeded 103. Paramedics determined Jacob's core body temperature was 107.9 degrees, the affidavit says.

Janette Fennell, founder and president of Kids and Cars, said the temperature inside a vehicle can rise as much as 50 degrees above the outdoor temperature in about an hour, depending on the time of day, color of the car and other factors.

“That kind of day, the little one didn’t have a chance,” said Ms. Fennell, whose organization advocates for vehicle safety and tracks incidents related to children and automobiles.

Blynithia Washington A police officer who went to the playground said it appeared Jacob’s body “had been laid there intentionally,” the affidavit says.

On Monday, Balch Springs police changed the charge against Washington from abandoning or endangering a child to injury to a child/recklessly causing serious bodily injury and more than doubled her bail to $500,000. Both charges are second-degree felonies punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Chief Prasifka said investigators think the new charge “is more appropriate” for the circumstances of the incident.

Ms. Washington, 40, remained in the Lew Sterrett Justice center and couldn’t be reached for comment. Her lawyer, Scottie Allen of Dallas, also couldn’t be immediately reached and has not returned calls seeking comment.