Child dies after being left in pickup
Girl, 1, found unresponsive in truck on record hot day

By Isadora Vail
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAF

Updated: 6:28 a.m. Thursday, May 26, 2011
Published: 8:35 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, 2011

While record-breaking temperatures rose to 100 degrees Wednesday, a child died after being left in a truck for an undetermined amount of time, Austin police said.

The 1-year-old girl was discovered unresponsive in a pickup about 1:30 p.m., when temperatures were around 96 degrees.

Bystanders who found the child attempted to give her CPR, said violent crimes unit Cmdr. Julie O'Brien. She said the child was taken to Dell Children's Medical Center, where the girl died about an hour later.

Police did not say whether the bystanders had to break into the truck to reach the girl.

The girl was found in a black pickup in the parking lot of Biscayne Aquaculture, at 4900 Spicewood Springs Road in Northwest Austin.

Police did not disclose the girl's identity and would not say how long she was left in the car or who left her, citing a pending investigation.

O'Brien said police would be working with the Travis County district attorney's office to determine whether charges will be filed.

Texas leads the nation in child hyperthermia deaths in vehicles, according to Jan Null, an adjunct professor of meteorology at San Francisco State University who studies the frequency of these deaths.

Null said there have been three other child hyperthermia deaths nationwide in vehicles this year — one of which was in Central Texas — and 498 since 1998. Texas had 13 heat-related car deaths in 2010.

In March, a 6-month-old girl was inadvertently left in a vehicle for about nine hours while the child's mother was at work in New Braunfels.

Last year, a Williamson County grand jury indicted Kesen Hu, the father of an 18-month-old boy who died when he was left in a car, on two felony accounts of criminally negligent homicide and endangering a child.

Hu pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of endangering a child and was sentenced to two years of probation.

In Texas, it is a Class C misdemeanor to knowingly or intentionally leave a child unattended in a vehicle for longer than five minutes. If the child dies, it could be escalated to a felony of child endangerment or criminally negligent homicide.

There are 19 other states that have similar laws, Null said. A 2007 Associated Press study found that charges were filed in 49 percent of the 339 hot-car child deaths nationwide in the previous 10 years.

"On a day like (Wednesday), it could take just 10 or 15 minutes, and the temperature inside the car could be above 115 degrees," Null said. "If it was more than hour, it would be 145 degrees. It would literally be an oven."


Police identify baby left in hot car
1-year-old Sophia Cavaliero died in heat
Updated: Friday, 27 May 2011, 10:31 AM CDT
Published : Friday, 27 May 2011, 10:08 AM CDT

Jackie Vega
AUSTIN (KXAN) - Police have released the name of a 1-year-old girl who died after being left in a parked pickup in the heat of the afternoon Wednesday.

Sophia R. Cavaliero was left in the black pickup at a business in the 4900 block of Spicewood Springs Road in Northwest Austin. The baby girl had just celebrated her one-year birthday 10 days earlier.

“At approximately 1:30 p.m., 911 received a call from the 4900 block of Spicewood Springs Road that an infant had been found unresponsive in a parked vehicle. A few minutes later, APD, EMS arrived, found citizens performing CPR on the infant,” said Cmdr. Julie O'Brian with the Austin Police Department .

CPR did not help, and Cavaliero died at Dell Children's Medical Center at 2:49 p.m. Wednesday.

When police were called to respond, the temperature topped 90 degrees.

Temperatures can quickly rise in cars with no shade. In a temperature around 95 degrees, temperatures inside a car can quickly climb to 140 degrees, causing a child to lose consciousness in a matter of minutes.

Police took the truck away as part of the investigation.

This is the second child heat-related death in Texas this year. The other happened just a few months ago in New Braunfels, and the incident is also the fourth in the nation.

A 1-year-old boy in August 2009 died in North Austin after his dad left him in a parked car for hours after forgetting to drop him off at day care as he went to work. His dad has since taken efforts to create public safety announcements about for parents warning them of the dangers of leaving children in cars.

It was part of his sentencing after he pleaded guilty to child endangerment seven months after his son's death.

Dell Children’s Medical Center is urging the community to implement safe practices. More information can be found on the Safe Kids website.