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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Baby found dead after being left all day in hot SUV in Texas

Associated Press

HELOTES, Texas – Authorities have released the name of an infant boy who died after being left all day in a hot sport utility vehicle in a San Antonio-area Wal-Mart parking lot.

The Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office on Saturday identified the 6-month-old infant as Dillon Martinez from San Antonio.

Helotes police say the baby’s father told officers he forgot to drop his son off at day care before going to work about 6:15 a.m. Friday at the store. When the father returned to his SUV at 3 p.m., he found his child dead.

A cause of death had not yet been determined, and no charges have been filed.

The death brings the toll of children dying in hot cars this year to at least 27, six in Texas, said Janette Fennell, founder and president of, a national child safety nonprofit based in Philadelphia. On Aug. 4, twin 15-month-old girls died after being found in the back seat of a hot SUV parked in front of a duplex in northwestern Georgia. When police arrived, they found people holding the girls in the water of a baby pool behind the duplex, some with ice packs, trying to cool the girls off.

Last year, there were 15 heatstroke deaths of children in vehicles, Fennell said.

The toll began rising sharply in the 1990s with the passing of laws requiring that young children be placed in the back seat to avoid air-bag injuries. With the children strapped into the back seat, drivers can tend to forget them, Fennell said.

Fennell said the numbers of heatstroke deaths of kids in cars fluctuated in the following decades, averaging 37 such deaths a year since 1998. The worst year was 2010, with 49, according to a count by Fennell and Jan Null, a research meteorologist at San Jose State University.

The temperature inside a parked car on a 90-degree day will reach 119 degrees in 20 minutes and 133 degrees after an hour, Null said.

Parents should get into the habit of always opening their back doors when they leave the vehicle, according to Fennell. Leaving a purse or cellphone in the back seat can help. Other strategies include keeping a stuffed animal in the car seat and placing it in the front seat when the child is strapped in as a reminder that the child is there. Parents also need to make sure their day care calls them if the child doesn’t show up, she said.