2-year-old dies after being left in a car in NW Albuquerque

Posted at: 08/06/2012 4:32 PM | Updated at: 08/06/2012 6:32 PM
By: Danielle Flores, KOB.com

Albuquerque police say a two-year-old boy was pronounced dead at a hospital after being found inside a car in the parking lot of a day care Monday afternoon.

According to officials, the toddler was found unresponsive inside his carseat in a car around 3:30 p.m. in the parking lot of Precious Moments Child Care on Ladera near Atrisco.

Officials said it was 91 degrees outside when the child was found.

The boy was transported to the hospital but was pronounced dead after arrival. The parents of the child were notified.

The child was found inside a female relative's car, but police will not release the relation between the two.

The relative is an employee of the day care, police said.

Officers are on scene conducting interviews to determine the sequence of events. All of the day care employees are being interviewed at ths time.

Police said all other children who attend the day care are OK.

‘I just … forgot him’

By Deborah Ziff / Journal Staff Writer on Wed, Aug 8, 2012

Every morning, Sandra Rodriguez Miramontes picked up her 2-year-old nephew and drove him to Precious Moments day care where she worked. She would unbuckle the child, who normally slept during the ride, and carry him inside.

Except for Monday, when the 19-year-old Rodriguez Miramontes “just left the car and forgot him,” according to a criminal complaint released Tuesday.

The boy sat strapped in the car seat for eight hours as temperatures topped 90 degrees in the afternoon before a “freaked out” Rodriguez Miramontes realized she had forgotten the child, the complaint said.

After Rodriguez Miramontes asked about her nephew’s whereabouts, a co-worker grabbed the keys and ran to the vehicle. She immediately called 911, according to the complaint. Paramedics took the child to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Sandra Rodriguez Miramontes, right, makes her first appearance on child abuse charges in the death of her 2-year-old nephew. (PAT VASQUEZ-CUNNINGHAM/JOURNAL)

Rodriguez Miramontes was arrested on a charge of child abuse resulting in death. She made her first appearance in Metropolitan Court on Tuesday via a live video feed, holding a tissue and answering questions through sobs. Some of her family members sat in the courtroom, holding one another and crying.

Judge Julie N. Altwies said she found probable cause for the felony charge and set a $50,000 cash or surety bond.

“It’s a tragedy that it happened,” said Ben Sherman, the attorney representing Rodriguez Miramontes. “It’s a complete accident. And now the family has to deal with not only the loss of a son and nephew but also possible criminal prosecution.”

A background investigator for the court said Rodriguez Miramontes has no prior criminal history, although she is involved in a traffic case for speeding and has an immigration hold by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That means her immigration status is in question.

The name of the victim and the child’s mother have not been released.

Sherman said the family is supportive of Rodriguez Miramontes.

“There’s no ill will, no ill feelings whatsoever,” he said. “Everybody understands that it was a complete accident, and they want to see her released as soon as possible.”

According to the criminal complaint:

It was routine for Rodriguez Miramontes to pick up her nephew in the morning and take him with her to Precious Moments Learning Center on Ladera NW, where she had been working for the last five months.

On Monday at 6:35 a.m., she picked him up at her sister’s house, which is nearby in the same trailer park. The boy was still asleep as his mother dressed him for day care.

Rodriguez Miramontes carried him to the car and strapped him into a forward-facing car seat in the back seat on the driver’s side. She arrived at work around 6:55 a.m., grabbed her purse from the front passenger seat and walked from the back of the building to the front entrance.

She was asked to care for the infants until 7:30 a.m. Then she moved to the 3-year-old room, where she normally works.

About 3 p.m., when the temperature hit 92 degrees, her supervisor asked her to help out in the 2-year-old room. Rodriguez Miramontes asked where her nephew was, and the teacher said he wasn’t at school.

Rodriguez Miramontes “got freaked out” and assistant director Laura Moncada ran to the car, where she discovered the boy.

When asked what happened, Rodriguez Miramontes said, “I don’t know. I just left the car and forgot him.”

Precious Moments is licensed as a three-star facility by the state out of a scale of five. It is inspected twice a year. A spokesman for the Children, Youth and Families Department said it does not appear to have a licensing issue.