Two people have been taken into custody after a baby was found dead in Peoria, Arizona, over the weekend.
Police on Monday identified the suspects as Jose Garcia, the child’s uncle, and Monique Avila, Garcia’s girlfriend, according to Phoenix-area television station KPHO.
Garcia, 18, and Avila, 23, each face one count of felony child abuse. More charges are possible as the investigation continues. Police have not released any details about either suspect.
Peoria detectives say the 5-month-old was found Sunday at an apartment complex called Cedar Meadows, located near 85th and Peoria avenues.
Investigators say the child may have been left in a car for several hours before his caretakers brought him into the apartment.
“Officers interviewed both caretakers who admitted to leaving the child in the vehicle for upwards of four hours,” Officer Brandon Sheffert said in an email Monday morning. “They told officers that they had forgotten about the child.”
Leana Baker watched it all unfold.
“My kids come down, say there is something wrong with the baby,” she said. “I go in; I try to administer CPR to the baby.”
The baby was taken to the hospital, but it was too late.
“I think that’s sad because he is only 5 months. He can’t take care of himself,” a neighbor said.
“This serves as a tragic reminder to take that extra second to double check your vehicle to ensure that you are not leaving any children or pets behind,” Sheffert said. “Even though it is cooling off in Arizona, the temperatures inside a vehicle can raise very quickly to unsafe levels.”
Jannette Fennel of KidsAndCars.org said the Peoria baby is the 35th child to die of heatstroke after being left in a hot car this year. Last year, there were 25 such deaths throughout the country.
“This is the 1st [sic] child vehicular heatstroke death in Arizona this year,” she said in an email. “Arizona ranks 4th [sic] in the nation with 34 heat stroke fatalities from 1994-2015.”
KidsAndCars.org is behind a piece of legislation called “Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seats Act,” (HOT CARS Act of 2016, H.R. 6041); the measure was introduced on Sept. 15. In the two weeks since its introduction, six kids have died.
As written right now, the measure would task the secretary of transportation with issuing a new rule to require “all new passenger motor vehicles be equipped with technology to provide an alert that a child or unattended passenger remains in a rear seating position after the vehicle motor is deactivated.”
“The urgency and significance of the HOT CARS Act of 2016 could not be more apparent in the wake of this recent heartbreaking tragedy,” Fennell wrote.
If passed, the secretary would have two years to issue that rule. Once that happens, car makers would have one year to comply.