Sugar Land police: Baby dies after left by father in hot vehicle

May 4, 2012 9:16:03 PM PDT
It's a tragic accident every parent can learn from. Sugar Land police are investigating the death of a 7-month-old baby who was left in a truck all day Thursday by the father.

The truck in which that baby died has been moved inside the Sugar Land Police Department garage as the investigation continues. But it appears to be another hot weather tragedy, in which heat combined with the distractions of life can have terrible consequences.

It is a home that will never again be the same; where such a loss has happened that neighbors will not speak of it publicly out of respect for the family that lost a 7-month-old baby boy. His body was found in the backseat of his father's truck, accidentally left behind in a chain of events that started Thursday morning.

"The father dropped off two children at school and went to a conference in northwest Houston and had basically forgotten that he had a 7-month-old in the back seat," said Sugar Land Police Captain Stuart Denton.

The father arrived at this Houston hotel for the conference just after 8am Thursday. According to police, he drove home in his truck nearly seven hours later and walked into the house. Around 5pm came the phone call.

"He was conversing with his mother about where the children were and that's when he realized," said Capt. Denton.

The child was already gone; there was no reviving him. Police describe the parents as devastated.

But consider that last year, Texas led the nation in the number of children who died inside hot cars. This, too, was the case of a parent whose routine didn't include taking a child to day care.

No one knows better how that can happen than Donna Hicks, whose grandson Christian died a few years ago inside her car. She also went to work, forgetting he was in the backseat until it was too late.

"I remember watching TV when someone else had done that and saying how could a parent forget their own child in a car?" Hicks said. "You never know until it really happens to you or someone you know."

Children's Protective Services says it will be speaking with the family of the Sugar Land case to assess their situation, the safety of the other two children and perhaps provide counseling.

Tonight on Eyewitness News at 10pm, we ask that question of a woman whose grandson died in her car while she was at work. We also offer advice on how to avoid this tragedy.

The government says an average of 38 children die every year from being left alone in a car. In half of the cases, the child was simply forgotten.

Here are some safety tips for parents from

  • Put something you'll need, like your cell phone, purse or employee ID, on the floor board of the back seat.
  • Get in the habit of always opening the back door of your car every time you reach your destination to make sure no child has been left behind.
  • Keep a large stuffed animal in the child's car seat when it's not occupied. When your child is in the car seat, move the stuffed animal to the front passenger seat as a visual reminder that your child is in the back.

Just this week, the Houston Police Department launched its Child Safety Starts With You program. The program in part aims to prevent child deaths in hot vehicles. Police want to remind parents to not leave kids in a vehicle. Officers demonstrated with a "heat van" that has a thermostat to show how quickly the temperature rises inside.

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