Friday, June 6, 2003 | 11:17 a.m.
For the third time in as many days, a child was left in a vehicle in the Las Vegas Valley's sweltering heat, and this time the baby died.
A 7-month-old boy died early this morning after being left all day in his father's van, Metro Police said. Officers said the father apparently was so fatigued from working two jobs that he just forgot that the boy was in the van Thursday.
Early each workday, the boy's father drops his 2-year-old son off at Klassy Kids Academy on Lone Mountain Road near Jones Boulevard. Then, normally, the father took the 7-month-old to a babysitter about 7:30 a.m.
Routinely, after dropping off the children, the father stopped for coffee before going to work.
On Thursday that routine changed.
The father explained to police that instead of driving the 7-month-old directly to the baby sitter, he stopped for coffee first because he was tired, Metro Lt. David Braden said. Then he went to work.
When he returned to Klassy Kids about 4:30 p.m. to pick up the 2-year-old, the father discovered the 7-month-old was still in the van.
"He opened the door of the van and found the baby in the safety seat," Braden said.
The infant was unconscious and barely breathing. He probably had not been immediately killed by the afternoon heat because of the air volume in the van and because the vehicle has tinted windows, police said. Paramedics rushed the boy to University Medical Center but he died there early this morning, officials said.
The National Weather Service said the official high recorded at McCarran International Airport was 98 degrees Thursday. Temperatures during the past the week have been above 100 degrees.
When it is 90 degrees outside, the temperature inside a parked car can rise to more than 140 degrees within four minutes, according to the Las Vegas Fire Department.
Why would a parent forget a child is in the car as summer daytime temperatures reach 100 degrees or more?
"That blast of hot air in the face when you walk outside is enough to make anybody forget things," Braden speculated.
He said he didn't expect any charges would be filed against the father.
"Detectives are almost absolutely certain it was an accident," Braden said. "There is no doubt the father, such a hard-working member of the community, is going to suffer for the rest of his life. ... It was a tragic accident."
Other authorities said Thursday, however, that accident or not, parents who leave a child alone in a vehicle should be held accountable for placing the child in danger.
Two other cases of children left in cars made the news this week.
Sixteen-month-old Edwin Olivas was strapped into his safety seat Tuesday night when his mother left the car with the air conditioning running while she ran into a shoe store on Meadows Lane near Decatur Boulevard.
A thief drove the car off.
Five hours later a convenience store clerk at Lone Mountain Road and Cheyenne Avenue became suspicious when a car with the motor running remained in front of the store. When she looked inside, she saw Olivas, who was not harmed. Police have not arrested a suspect.
On Wednesday a mother left her 1-year-old alone in a vehicle for about an hour and the child had to be taken to the hospital for treatment of dehydration, police said. The woman was caring for five children and did not realize the 1-year-old was still in the vehicle, police said.
At the child care center where the 7-month-old was discovered in the van Thursday, people were struggle to cope with the tragedy today.
"We have a lot of grief, and a lot of us have been up all night praying for the family. Our prayers are with them," said Dawn Hayden, owner of Klassy Kids Academy, 6050 Lone Mountain Road.
The child care center is trying to keep things as normal as possible for the other children, and most of the children are not aware of what happened, Hayden said.