Death of child in hot car has underlying tragedies

By ERIN MOORE emoore@ktbs.com

A south Arkansas woman who left her unattended toddler in a hot car for four hours, leading to his death, was recovering from surgeries for brain tumors -- one of the factors that has led the prosecutor to decide against criminal charges.

It happened Thursday at the Cossatot Community College campus in De Queen, Ark. The little boy died today.

Fourteen-month-old Zachary Bowden was left inside the car about 8 a.m. when his mother, Kristin, an administrator at the college, arrived for work. She apparently forgot about him, authorities said, finding him about noon. Temperature were in the 90s.

Zachary was airlifted to Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock but died today.

Sevier County Prosecuting Attorney Tom Cooper said he does not defend leaving a child alone in a car, but under the circumstances -- including the fact the child had a physical disability that caused him to be unable to cry -- he said it appears to be a tragic accident.

"We've looked and asked ourselves as law enforcement and prosecutors, how this could have happened," Cooper said in explaining why no charges will be filed.

"People you talk to say it's not like her -- that she did have brain surgery for cancer and that could affect (what happened)," Cooper said. "She normally is not the one who takes her child to the daycare. One added factor is, the child does not cry."

Authorities said Kristin Bowden, 38, had her second surgery for a brain tumor not long ago.

Bowden is vice chancellor and dean of students at Cossatot, said Chancellor Frank Adams, who described her as a good mother and a woman who is good with all children.

"Very well respected in the community, a very religious person," Adams said. "If you put all of that together -- with her position and her religion -- you say, how can you explain this? No one can."

Authorities described Bowden as hysterical when she found her son and devastated over his death.

After Bowden found her son in the hot car, a nursing student performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation and found a pulse, authorities said.