Tot dies after Vegas teacher forgets him all day in hot van
June 7, 2003
LAS VEGAS — A 7-month-old boy died early Friday after being forgotten in a hot van for eight hours, and police said his schoolteacher father could face a felony child endangerment charge.
“He was responsible for the health and safety of the child, and the child died,” Lt. Jeff Carlson said.
Carlson identified the father as a high school teacher in Las Vegas, but declined to release his name because he had not been charged with a crime.
The boy died shortly before 1 a.m. Friday at University Medical Center in Las Vegas.
Carlson said the father found the boy unconscious about 4 p.m. Thursday in the back seat of his van while picking up the boy’s 2-year-old brother at day care.
“He leaves work, runs some errands, goes to day care, opens the door of the van and finds the child unconscious,” Carlson said.
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The younger child had been in a child safety seat in the van since 8 a.m., when the father changed his morning routine and stopped for coffee on the way to his campus on the last day of the school year. Normally, the father dropped the infant at a baby sitter’s before getting coffee, police said.
The National Weather Service reported a high temperature of 98 degrees Thursday in Las Vegas. Police said the temperature inside the parked van could have reached 160 degrees.
Carlson said detectives would submit a report to Clark County District Attorney David Roger for possible prosecution.
Roger said Friday it was too early to say whether charges will be filed.
Four previous cases since 2001 involving children who died after being left unattended in hot cars did not result in any prosecutions under Roger’s predecessor, Stewart Bell.
It was the third time in three days that children had been left unattended in vehicles in Las Vegas. Police will seek gross misdemeanor endangerment charges against the parents in the other two cases, Carlson said.
Carlson said detectives were investigating after a mother forgot her 1-year-old for an hour in a car Wednesday while she was watching four other children. The child was treated for dehydration and is recovering.
On Tuesday, a 16-month-old became the focus of the state’s first “Amber Alert” after his mother allegedly left him in a car that was stolen while she shopped. The thief abandoned the car at a convenience store, and the boy was found unharmed about five hours later. The car thief has not been found.
At least 120 children died from heat injuries nationwide from 1996 to 2000, a General Motors study shows. Seven of those deaths occurred in southern Nevada.
A year ago, a 5-year-old North Las Vegas boy died after climbing into a car parked in the family driveway. The car’s door handles didn’t work. Temperatures that day reached 101 degrees.
In 2001, a 5-year-old boy and two infants died in Clark County in separate cases after being left in hot cars.