Baby died after being left in car

Friday, October 10, 2008 at 5:26 p.m.

It may be one of the biggest game nights for the Edcouch-Elsa football team but a somber feeling filled the air Friday evening.

Police blocked off part of the school's parking lot as a crime scene to investigate the death of an 8-month-old baby.

According to investigators, the baby boy was found by Edcouch-Elsa ISD Police in the back seat of a white Ford Explorer.

They immediately notified EMS and the Edcouch Police Department after spotting the child.

The father, who is an employee at the high school, is said to be in shock.

He told investigators, he normally drops off the child at day care, but must have forgotten.

Edcouch City Manager Paul Vazaldua told Action 4 News that the father arrived to work at 8:30 a.m.

The boy was found by school police at 3:25 p.m. and was pronounced dead at 4:20 p.m.

The body of the child has been transported to Ceballos Funeral Home where an autopsy will be conducted.

The father is expected to face charges.

School officials told Action 4 News there will be grief counselors at the school for both teachers and students


Parents of infant left in school parking lot identified; father may face charges

October 11, 2008 - 5:36PM
Ana Ley
The Monitor

ELSA -- The father of a baby who died in a vehicle parked at Edcouch-Elsa High School has been identified as Jaime Hernandez, a teacher's assistant at the school.

The body of the 7-month-old infant, Samuel James Hernandez, was discovered Friday afternoon as his father left work.

Officials said Hernandez, 29, forgot to take the child to daycare before arriving at work about 8:30 a.m. Friday.

The child likely died from heat exposure, said Paul Vazaldua, the Elsa city manager.

Authorities may charge Hernandez in connection with the child's death, depending on the results of an autopsy conducted Saturday morning and an investigation by Child Protective Services.

Officials initially said the child was rushed to a hospital, but Vazaldua confirmed Saturday the infant was dead at the scene.

Hernandez's wife, Jennifer Montelongo, is a special education teacher for the Edcouch-Elsa school district. The couple has two older children.

The autopsy was performed in McAllen, but the infant's body will be transferred to Zavala Family Funeral Home in Edcouch on Monday.

A May 2004 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that about 25 children die in the United States each year as a result of being left in hot vehicles or becoming trapped in them.

According to the agency, vehicles parked in direct sunlight can reach internal temperatures of 131 degrees to 172 degrees when outside temperatures are 80 degrees to 100 degrees.

Temperatures in Elsa on Friday reached 90 degrees.

At least four other children have died in Texas this year from being left in hot vehicles.

Samuel's death comes just as Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño launches a public service campaign reminding people to watch after their children.

The sheriff said he felt compelled to reinforce that message after four incidents within days of each other in August left two young children dead and two others seriously injured.

Samuel's death Friday was at least the fifth incident in Hidalgo County in recent months resulting in the death or serious injury of a child.