MIAMI (CBSMiami) –The Department of Children and Families says the family of a 1-year-old who died after being left in a hot car had no history with the child welfare system.
The department has opened a child protective investigation but says all details remain confidential.
DCF Secretary Mike Carroll did release a statement saying,
“My heart goes out to this family who have lost a precious child. It is easy to assume this could never happen to you, but time and time again I see caregivers who let themselves slip into a routine when transporting children and make a fatal mistake when that routine is disrupted. More than half of all child deaths from hot cars are the result of a parent inadvertently leaving the child in their car..”
The case prompted strong words from Miami-Dade Police spokesman, Detective Alvaro Zabaleta.
He told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “This is something that we, in society, cannot allow to continue to happen. The precious cargo in your car is a child and there is no way that we as parents can forget the precious child in your car. This is happening way too often.”
“No matter how hectic our schedule is, no matter how fast paced our lives are, we can not allow our kids to be put in danger,” said Zabaleta. “We just need to learn how to slow down and concentrate on what we are doing.”
The 1-year-old boy was apparently forgotten in the car Wednesday at a strip mall near Bird Road and 97th Avenue.
The baby’s mother works at a beauty salon in the mall, according to witnesses. They said she was not supposed to work on Wednesday but came in on her day off.
She reportedly came to work at the Forever Young Spa around 9 a.m., parked the car in the back and, at about 12:30 p.m., they heard loud screams and commotion when she found her child.
The baby was a transported to Kendall Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
It was a hot day Wednesday with temperatures in the mid-80s. Temperatures inside the car could’ve reached up to 100°.
Witnesses said the mother was devastated and screaming. She said something along the lines of because of work – this happened.
At this time, it is unclear if there will be any charges related to this incident. Zabaleta said the case is being referred to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office. Witnesses said police have recovered surveillance tape from the scene but it is not being released.
A friend of the family said that family members were too upset to say anything right now.
At the salon, customers said they were upset after hearing the news.
“I can’t imagine anything like this happening,” said Cathy O’Sullivan, who also has children.
Another customer, Shanin Alvarez, said, “This is such a sad story to hear this. I don’t know what happened, if she was distracted or if she is a first-time mother.”
Customer Lidia Gutierrez said, “It is horrible. It is just so sad.” Her friend and another customer, Iala Isarque, said, “I just really have no words to say.”
Following the incident, Carroll did ask parents to find a safety strategy that works for them, suggesting the following:
- Be sure to check the back seat every time you leave the vehicle.
- Put your purse, briefcase, lunch, etc. in the backseat so you are sure to look before you lock the door.
- Do not let your children play near vehicles; they may accidentally lock themselves in.
- If there is a change in plans and someone else is dropping your kids off, have them call you at drop off so you know everyone made it safely.
For more information on tips to hot car preventions, click here.