Spotsylvania probes boy's death

1Spotsylvania authorities investigating after child found in sweltering car dies



Date published: 6/19/2003

Police: 3-year-old stuck in hot car while father slept

A 3-year-old Spotsylvania County boy died of heat-related injuries yesterday, five days after he was found in his family's sweltering car with the windows rolled up.

The child's father told authorities he fell asleep in the family's home on Lee Hill Village Circle and found the boy in his Ford Taurus when he awoke about 4:30 p.m Saturday, sheriff's Maj. Howard Smith said.

When police and rescuers arrived at the family's home on Lee Hill Village Circle, the child was breathing but unresponsive. His father had put him on the living-room floor and covered him with a cool, wet towel.

The boy was taken to Mary Washington Hospital, then flown by helicopter to the Medical College of Virginia Hospitals in Richmond. He was pronounced dead about 11 a.m. yesterday, Smith said.

The father, who was watching the boy, is under investigation, Smith said. No charges had been filed yesterday.

"The father told us that the child must have gotten into the car on his own," Smith said.

Authorities don't know how long the boy was in the car, though the father told detectives it was only for a short time, Smith said.

"We don't know what happened, we just know that the child died as the result of heat," he said.

Temperatures climbed into the 80s on Saturday afternoon, Smith said.

According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, a closed vehicle can heat up to dangerous levels within minutes, even on a mid 60-degree day.

On average, 25 children die each year as a result of being left in closed vehicles on hot days, according to the campaign.

In November, a Manassas man was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and child neglect after his 21-month-old daughter was found dead in her car seat in a sweltering van. A judge sentenced the father of 13 to symbolic jail time and community service.

Date published: 6/19/2003