Infant left in parked car at Riverside High School dies

By Daniel Borunda / El Paso Times

An infant died Friday after being left in a parked vehicle at Riverside High School, an El Paso police spokesman said.

Detectives with the Crimes Against Persons Unit are investigating the death of the 5-month-old girl, who was found about 4:20 p.m. inside a vehicle on a parking lot at the rear of Riverside High School, police said.

"The child was in the vehicle for, as of now, an undetermined amount of time. When the parent returned to the vehicle, the child was unresponsive," said Detective Mike Baranyay, a police spokesman.

Baranyay said that school staff unsuccessfully tried to revive the baby, who was taken by ambulance to Del Sol Medical Center. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.

No charges had been filed.

The child's mother was also taken to the hospital because of medical concerns after she became upset, according to emergency radio transmissions and a spokeswoman for the Ysleta Independent School District.

YISD and police officials had not disclosed whether the mother was a school employee, a student or a visitor at the Lower Valley high school.

Channel 14-KFOX reported that police officers were looking at a white sports utility vehicle.

Friday's weather was cloudy, rainy and cooler than usual with a high temperature of 79 degrees. The National Weather Service said the temperature was 75 degrees about the time that the child was found.

Even though Friday was not an extremely hot day, police warn that temperature can rise quickly inside a parked car, which can be particularly dangerous for young children.

The child-safety advocacy group Kids And Cars cautions that the temperature inside a parked car can reach 125 degrees in only a few minutes.

The group reports that about 38 children die every year of heatstroke from being left inside hot vehicles. Nearly a third of them are younger than 1 year.

Last week, an El Paso-area father was sentenced to three years in prison in the death of his 2-year-old who was left in a hot car. Emmanuel Armendariz pleaded guilty to manslaughter and injury-to-a-child charges in the death of his son, Manny Malique Armendariz. The toddler died after being left in a parked car on a 90-degree day in August 2010.

Daniel Borunda may be reached at dborunda@elpasotimes.com; 546-6102


Autopsy: Heat exposure killed baby in vehicle at Riverside High

By Daniel Borunda \ El Paso Times

Posted: 06/21/2013 12:01:33 AM MDT

An autopsy has confirmed that an infant left in a parked vehicle at Riverside High School last month died from heat exposure.

The El Paso County Medical Examiner's Office on Thursday released the autopsy report on Janay Aliah Ives, the 5-month-old who died May 10 after she was found in a teacher's vehicle in a rear parking lot at the school.

"This 5 month old infant, Janay Aliah Ives, died of environmental heat exposure," the autopsy report stated. "According to reports she was left unattended inside a vehicle for several hours before being found unresponsive. Autopsy revealed no injuries and no significant natural disease."

An analysis of the baby's eyes found dehydration, stated the report by Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Mario A. Rascon and Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Juan U. Contin. Toxicology tests found no drugs in the child's system.

"The manner of death is accident," the autopsy stated.

Janay's mother is Wakesha Ives, 37, a business teacher at Riverside High School.

No charges have been filed in the case. The death is still under investigation by the El Paso police Crimes Against Persons Unit, and the case has yet to go to the District Attorney's Office, a spokeswoman for the district attorney said.

Child-safety advocates said Janay's death was the first heat-related child death in a vehicle in the nation this year.

In the six weeks since Janay's death, 12 other children have died in similar circumstances across
the country, said meteorologist Jan Null, a lecturer at San Francisco State University who researches and tracks heatstroke deaths of children in vehicles.

Null said about 37 such child deaths happen each year.

"Fifty-one percent of the cases is where a child is accidentally forgotten in a car," Null said. "A person gets distracted for whatever reason and forgets the child. And that looks like the category the Riverside High case falls into."

Other cases involve children who get into a car while playing (29 percent) and children left in a parked car intentionally while a parent runs an errand (18 percent), Null said. The circumstances are unknown in the rest.

"If a child is missing -- that happens in some of the cases -- check the pool first and check the car second," Null said "Those are the places a child can die the fastest."

Null said that leaving a child in a locked car even for a few minutes can be very dangerous because children's bodies heat up about four to five times as fast as an adult's. The temperature in a locked car can reach 115 in just a few minutes, he said.

Null recommends that parents use reminders such as placing necessities like cellphones, lunch bags and purses next to the baby's seat. Parents also can set a teddy bear in the front seat when the baby is in the back seat.

On the day of Janay's death, the weather in El Paso was cloudy and rainy with a high temperature of 79 degrees. El Paso is now in the middle of sweltering 100-degree days.

"On a 100-degree day, the temperature (in a parked car) after an hour would be in the 140- to 150-degree range," Null said. "That's hotter than the hottest day in Death Valley."