Infant dies after apparently being left in hot car

June 11, 2011 11:33 PM
Ildefonso Ortiz
The Monitor

SOUTH OF CITRUS CITY — The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of a 1 1/2-year-old girl.

The incident occurred about 7:30 p.m. Saturday outside a house near the intersection of Mile 5 North and Western Avenue, a sheriff’s office dispatcher said. Preliminary information indicates the infant was left inside a hot vehicle. Emergency responders arrived at the scene to find the baby unconscious and rushed her to Mission Regional Medical Center, where she later died.

As of press time Saturday, investigators were still working the case and no arrests had been reported.

Mom could be charged in baby's hot-car death
Heat exposure ruled as cause of death

June 16, 2011 6:19 PM
Naxiely Lopez
The Monitor

NORTH OF PALMVIEW — The mother of a 17-month-old girl, who died after being left inside an unattended vehicle, might be formally arraigned on manslaughter charges.

Barbara Zepeda was found about 7:30 p.m. Saturday in a car outside a house near Mile 5 North and Western Avenue, north of Palmview. She was unconscious when emergency responders arrived at the scene, and she died later at Mission Regional Medical Center.

An Hidalgo County pathologist ruled hyperthermia — or heat stroke — was the official cause of death, according to a news release from the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office. Dr. Norma Jean Farley’s report also indicated the death was an accident.

Nevertheless, investigators are considering manslaughter charges against the mother, whose identity has not been disclosed by authorities, Sheriff Lupe Treviño said in the statement.

Manslaughter charges are filed when a person recklessly causes the death of an individual, Treviño said. The second-degree felony carries a punishment of two to 20 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000.

“The re-creation of the event by Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation personnel indicated the interior of the vehicle was 107 degrees Fahrenheit at its peak during the two-hour span,” Treviño said. “The test was done with special thermal reading equipment on loan from the Texas Department of Public Safety in Austin.”

Hospital staff reported the body temperature of the child was at 108 degrees upon admission, Treviño said, adding that toxicology and microscopic examinations of selected tissue are still pending.

No other information was made available.