Child left alone to play gets trapped in unlocked car, dies while parents nap

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LOS ANGELES — A three-year-old boy in Southern California died Wednesday after he climbed into an unlocked car on a hot summer’s day and was trapped, police said.

The toddler was playing alone in the front yard of his house in Sylmar while his parents were home when he got into the car and couldn’t get out, said Officer Bruce Borihanh with the Los Angeles Police Department.

Police told CNN affiliate KABC that the boy’s father woke up from a nap and found the boy unresponsive. It was unclear how long the child was in the car, KABC reported.

“It highlights the importance … of not taking for granted where your kids are and what they might be doing,” Los Angeles police Lt. Paul Vernon said.

The toddler was rushed to the hospital, but was pronounced dead.

Police are investigating, but they do not suspect any foul play, Borihanh said.

While the case of a Georgia father accused of intentionally leaving his toddler son to die in a hot car has gripped the nation this summer, the heatstroke deaths of children left inside a car are not uncommon.

At least 19 have died this year alone, according to San Francisco State University. In 2013, the number was 44. And about 625 children in the United States have died this way since 1998.

“It’s reasonable to call this an epidemic,” says memory expert Dr. David Diamond, a scientist at the Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, who is often consulted on such cases. “It happens, on average, once a week from spring to early fall.”


  • sw

    I’m sorry but you cannot nap if you have a 3 year old in the house whether you think they are napping or not. When are parents going to wake up? All homes with a toddler need high bolts or alarms on the doors so no child can get out without someone knowing. Accidents like this are totally avoidable and parents need to start taking the precautions that are necessary to keep their children safe. How many more children have to cook in a hot car before all parents start taking precautions at their own home. Lock your freaking car doors. Make sure there is someone to always watch your toddler or have child alarms on your doors to wake you or let you know when your child opens the door. The two things can save your child’s life and does not break the bank.

  • Anita

    I nap when my daughter does but we have the doors locked up high in our House and her room is connected to ours. I can’t believe this happened poor baby

  • Diana Martinez

    This story has some inaccuracies. In this case, it appears that one of the officer’s gave reporters erroneous information. As the Editor of the San Fernando Valley Sun Newspaper, which is also based in the Northeast San Fernando Valley near Sylmar, I went to the family home and spoke directly to the parents today. They are in complete despair. They were also told of all the negative posting by people who accused them of being irresponsible parents which they said also caused them much pain. As the father described what had happened, his wife cried uncontrollably. “Our son has always been the center of our lives and as a family, we all constantly checked on him,” the father said. The parents said they were not all napping as has been reported. The boy’s father was in the backyard with the toddler until it was his child’s nap time and sent his son into the house and watched him walk in through the back door into the house, which was part of their routine. Father said he walked around the house checking the yard and went into the house and took a peek into the room and saw his wife and child sleeping next to her. But, about 20-30 minutes later after he watched his son enter the house through the back door his wife asked her husband where their 3- year- old was. Father said, “He was with you.” Mom, said that the child had came in and out of the bedroom and told her that he “was helping Dad outside,” Mom who has been ill, did lay down to take a short nap (not a 3 hour sleep as has been reported) thinking her 3 year old child was still “helping Dad outside. ” Meanwhile, another one of their children had moved from his bedroom and fell asleep next to the mother. When Dad peeked into the room to check on their 3 year old he saw only the top of his head and mistook the other sleeping child for the 3-year-old. As soon as the parents compared notes, they frantically searched throughout the house and the large fenced in yard. It was the toddler’s father,( not the toddler’s brother as previously reported) who found the 3-year-old in the family car parked near the front door. They immediately administered CPR while paramedics were called.. “He never climbed into the car before, he must have walked out the front door and climbed into the car. He had his backpack that he liked to carry that contained his toys,” the sobbing father said. “Maybe he took his toys into the car to play with them,” the father speculated, “We just don’t know exactly what happened..” The father said that the toddler was very bright and a bit of a daredevil, who liked to jump from things so they did watch him very closely. “He did know how to open the car doors from the outside and inside”. He said that the child liked to both unlatch his car seat and open the car door from the inside, so they had installed child safety locks in the back seat to prevent him from doing this. The child was discovered in the front passenger side of the car. “He would often fall asleep holding his toys in his hands, and we found him holding his toys in his hands. He had never climbed into the car like that before. I’m his father, and I’m responsible for him .We always had eyes on him, for all of our family, he was the center of our lives and now he’s not here.” the father sobbed,

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