Doctor's baby dies in hot parked car

By Bill Bryan
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
08/23/2007

St. Louis police are investigating the death of a 7-month-old baby apparently left in the heat of a parked car at Washington University medical school today.

The baby girl's mother is a pediatrician, and her father is a medical researcher.

Police withheld their identity for now. They believe that the parents became confused about which one had the child.

Passers-by saw the baby in the car, on a lot in the 4500 block of Clayton Avenue. They broke a window with a rock and tried to revive the baby.

In Jennings, a 68-year-old woman found in her home became the second St. Louis County resident to die from the heat wave, the county said today.

The victim's name was withheld. Her body was found Wednesday. An air conditioner in the house was set at 70 and fans were blowing, officials said, but the temperature in the home was 90 degrees.

All the windows and doors were closed.

The county health department emphasized the importance of checking in regularly with elderly friends, family members, and neighbors in 90-degree and above temperatures.

The city of St. Louis city has reported seven heat-related deaths so far in the heat wave.

A heat warning remains in effect until 7 p.m. today and may drag on into Friday.

Public schools in St. Louis closed early again today, and will do yet again on Friday.

Today's high temperature is forecast at 100 degrees. With humidity factored in, the reading will feel like 103.

An hour and a half before sunrise, at 4:51 a.m., the reading was already 80 degrees. At 1:51 p.m., the reading was up to 98 degrees.

As of 1:20 p.m., AmerenUE reported a lack of power to about 6,300 homes and businesses in its Missouri-Illinois service area. Among the hardest hit areas was around Green City, Mo., in Sullivan County, with about 650 customers out. Ameren spokesman Tim Fox said a severe windstorm had hit that area.

Today and Friday, St. Louis schools are closing under the same schedule used Wednesday. Schools that started at 7:20 a.m. closed at 10:50 a.m. Those that started at 8:15 a.m. closed at 11:45 a.m. Those that started at 9:10 a.m. closed at 12:40 p.m.

The regular schedule resumes Monday.

The heat warning covers St. Louis, St. Louis County and, in the Metro East area, Madison and St. Clair counties.

Friday's high is forecast at 99 degrees, prompting the National Weather Service to say that the warning might be extended into Friday. But a cold front is expected to nudge into the area later Friday.

As of now, Saturday's high is forecast at a mere 89 degrees -- and the low at a relatively chilly 68.

Wednesday's high was 98, at 2:43 p.m. The low was 77, at 4:35 a.m.

For today's date in St. Louis, the normal high is 87, and the normal low 67. The record high was 102, on Aug. 23, 1947. The record low was 54, on Aug. 23, 1966.

The hottest day ever in St. Louis was July 14, 1954, when the high temperature was 115 degrees.

Harry Levins of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this story, as did the Associated Press.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pediatrician's Child Found Dead In Hot Car

Parents Confused About Who Had Baby

ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- St. Louis police identified the baby who died in a hot car as 7-month-old Sophia Knutsen of Richmond Heights. Meanwhile, authorities said an investigation continues.

Sophia died Thursday, apparently after her parents became confused about who was caring for the child. Her father is Russell Knutsen, a medical school research analyst. Her mother is Dr. Beth Ann Kozel, a staff physician at St. Louis Children's Hospital.

A passer-by noticed the baby inside a car Thursday afternoon, when temperatures were in the 90s. A rock was used to break a window to try and save her, but Sophia was pronounced dead. She had been in her car seat for three hours.


The police Child Abuse Unit is handling the investigation.