Thursday, September 9, 2004

Baby left in minivan dies

City News Service

SANTA ANA ó A 5-month-old girl left inside a van for nearly five hours today died at a hospital and her father was detained for questioning, police said.

At 4:43 p.m., Santa Ana firefighters were sent to a parking lot at Third and Main streets, after the girlís father returned to the white minivan and called 911, fire Capt. Dave Thomas said. The temperature in Santa Ana at 4 p.m. was 92 degrees, Thomas said.

Firefighters "grabbed the child, who was in critical condition" and took her to Western Medical Center, but she was dead by the time they got there, police Sgt. Carlos Rojas said.

Thomas said the father began following the medical transport, but got separated and when he called 911 was told by a dispatcher to pull over and wait for officers, Rojas said.

At that point, the father pulled into the parking lot of the Department of Motor Vehicles, Rojas said, adding that the man was later taken to the hospital.

"At this time, I donít have any information as far as any statements he may have made to the officers," Rojas told reporters. "There is a possibility that an arrest may be made."

Across the United States, several dozen youngsters die each year when accidentally left in closed-up vehicles during spring and summer.

Experts say even mild exterior temperatures can be lethal to a child left in a closed-up car, SUV or truck.