Investigators: Infant dies after being left in vehicle for hours

Photo source: MGN

A 7-week-old infant was found dead in a van Sunday.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office is now investigating what the sheriff calls a possible hot car death.

The sheriff's office says this is still an active investigation and deputies simply haven't had enough time to determine exactly what happened Sunday afternoon.

The department did say the baby was left in a van outside a Mary Esther home Sunday afternoon from 12:45 p.m. after the family returned home from church. They found the baby eight hours later.

A department news release said the mother of the child placed the infant in a rear facing car seat inside the vehicle.

"We see it annually. Unfortunately. it's an annual event we always see," said Wally Ebbert with the Ocean City - Wright Fire Control District. "You know, within 10 to15 minutes your body temperature can rise to over 106 degrees so it can happen pretty rapidly."

Ebbert's suggestion to prevent this incident is to place a sticky note or a visible reminder to look behind you for a child in your car.

When you turn the car off it can get hot, quick. Just about 10 minutes after turning a car off it can soon heat up past the 120-degree mark.

Parents like Bobby Gonzales, he has two children of his own, can't make sense of the situation.

"I was shocked, well, not really shocked, because it happens way too much and it shouldn't, but again, I was shocked that someone could just forget their child," Gonzales said." It doesn't make any sense to me, I mean to me, it is just incomprehensible how someone could just forget their child.

Experts like Ardelle Bush said 'forgotten baby syndrome' could be to blame.

"Someone who is not in their normal routine. For example, if it's the dad's one off chance in a couple of weeks that he is going to be dropping the baby off at day care, well he goes into the house, he gets his stuff and comes back, and the baby is already in car, but he is in his routine to go to work and he forgets," Bush said.

Per, an advocacy group for children, an average of 37 children die from hot car-related heat stroke every year in the United States.

They say cracked windows don't help and deaths have been reported in temperatures as low as 60 degrees. Most children were under the age of two.

They say 18 children have died of heat stroke in hot cars so far this year nationwide.

There is some legislation in Washington, which hopes to reduce hot car deaths in the future.

A bipartisan group introduced the Hot Car Act, which would require a buzzer or signal to alert drivers if there is weight on the backseat.

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