Article published March 10, 2004

Roseburg baby dies after left in hot car

No charges: Drug use evident at Linn County trailer where mom was visiting friend
 
CHRISTIAN BRINGHURST

A 7-month-old Roseburg boy died Monday after his mother allegedly left him alone in a hot car for several hours while she was inside a Harrisburg trailer with a friend.

Police found evidence of drug use at the scene, but no charges have been filed against the child's mother, 24-year-old Michell Lee Fox of Roseburg.

Police and medical workers were called to the Diamond Hill RV Park around 3 p.m. after a report came in that the infant, Brody James Fox, was not breathing, according to Linn County Sheriff David Burright.

"When they arrived, the child ... had been taken out of the car, the mother and friend had attempted to resuscitate the child, they'd also gotten a next-door neighbor ... to try to assist and that person had attempted CPR until the medics arrived," Burright said.

The infant was pronounced dead at the scene.

After talking to witnesses, police obtained a warrant to search the trailer, where they found drug paraphernalia and small quantities of marijuana and methamphetamine.

"They found items consistent with the stories that ... the mother and the friend, throughout the day, had been smoking marijuana and methamphetamine while the child was left out in the car," Burright said.

An autopsy was performed Tuesday, but the cause of death might not be available for several weeks as investigators await the medical examiner's final report. Burright said the child's "core body temperature" was very high, although he would not say how high.

"We will wait for the test results and all the investigative reports to come back and then we'll submit it to the D.A., and then it will be up to them," Burright said. "They may very well just take it to a grand jury."

Burright said the weather in Harrisburg, north of Eugene, was unseasonably warm Monday afternoon and the four-door Pontiac the child was in was colored black.

"Although this was March, this was a very warm day which contributed to heat gain inside the vehicle," Burright said. "We don't know for sure how hot it got (inside the car) because, of course, it had all been opened up when we got there."

He said a deputy took the temperature inside his own car after it had been sitting in the sun about 30 minutes and it measured in the 90s.

A National Weather Service spokesman said the high temperature in Eugene that day, which he said would be within one degree of Harrisburg, was 67 degrees.

Police say Michell Fox had driven up from Roseburg and arrived in Harrisburg sometime Sunday night or very early Monday morning.

Witnesses reported seeing her car parked at the trailer all day Monday.

She reportedly told police that Brody had not been ill prior to his death, and that she'd checked on him within about two hours of when he was finally pulled from the car.



* You can reach reporter Christian Bringhurst at 957-4213 or by e-mail at cbringhurst@newsreview.info.