Intense heat cited in death of girl found in van

Hurst 3-year-old is 2nd area child to die in hot vehicle this year

07/13/2003

HURST Intense heat caused the death of a 3-year-old girl found Friday evening in an unlocked minivan, the Tarrant County medical examiner determined Saturday.

Mafi Manu was found dead about 5:30 p.m. in a middle-row seat of a white minivan parked in the 200 block of Hurstview Drive.

The temperature at the time was 96 degrees, with a heat index of 102 degrees, according to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.

Police do not know how long the girl was in the minivan and are investigating whether she climbed into the van without anyone knowing. No charges have been filed.

Relatives declined to comment Saturday afternoon.

The incident was the fifth time this year that a child has been found in a hot vehicle in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The girl was the second child to die.

"It just seems there is a lot more this year than in years past," said Cpl. Jim Pell of the Hurst Police Department. "Everybody needs to take it as a lesson to keep a close eye on their children."

Neighbors in this largely empty-nest community off State Highway 10 described Mafi as an energetic girl frequently seen playing in the family's back yard or nearby with relatives and friends.

"The two older ones would play on their bicycles, and she would run after them," said Collene Colbert, who lives next door on Hurstview Drive. "They have the cutest little puppy, and she carried that little dog with her all the time."

Ms. Colbert said she planned to bring over a card and food for the family to help them to deal with their loss.

"The mother was just hysterical," she said. On Saturday morning, "she was just talking and praying and crying as she walked in the yard."

Neighbor Kerry Kolb said she was shocked when she heard about the incident.

"I said, 'Oh my God! Another one!' " said Ms. Kolb, a mother of three.

On June 3, 2-year-old Alan Devon Brown Jr. of Dallas died from heat-related injuries after spending more than 2 hours in a Lancaster day-care van. The director and employee of the center were charged with injury to a child and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The same day in Dallas, police reported that a woman left her 17-month-old son and 6-year-old daughter inside a locked sport utility vehicle at the Fiesta food store in the 2900 block of South Buckner Boulevard. They were OK, but the woman was charged with two counts of abandoning or endangering a child.

On June 9, a baby sitter was charged with abandonment of a child with bodily injury after allegedly leaving a 1-year-old in a locked minivan at a Dallas shopping center at Hampton Road and Illinois Avenue.

And on June 10 in Azle, a 6-year-old boy was found sleeping on a school bus after it was returned to the district facility lot.