Infant found dead after being left in car

April 19, 2010 6:33:54 PM PDT
This is a story that leaves people asking, "How could it happen?" A 7-month-old baby girl is dead after being left in her parents' car for 13 hours.

So far, Antioch police are treating the incident as a series of unfortunate mistakes. Two parents in their mid 20s left their daughter in the car after arriving Saturday night. Each thought the other had brought the child inside, failed to miss her the next morning and did not realize the mistake until 2 p.m. Sunday.

"Both parents had seen the door to the child's room closed and had assumed that the other had put the child into the crib, apparently the child was a light sleeper and it was not their practice to go in and check because she would wake up," Antioch police Lt. Leonard Orman said.

Police say the parents went to sleep at 3 a.m., slept until almost noon, and even then, did not check on the still silent baby. Instead, the father drove that same car, with the baby inside, to the gym. He did not see the child in the back seat and never knew she was missing until his wife called.

He then left his workout, went back to the car and found the baby dead.

Neighbors describe the couple as hard working and say they kept to themselves.

"I've never seen anything wrong over there, and now this," neighbor Ronnie Bailey said.

It was 78 degrees in Antioch Sunday, but it would have been much hotter inside a car with the windows closed.

Jeanette Fennell runs an organization called Kids and Cars. She says this kind of tragedy happens 37 times a year, to all kinds of parents.

"What seems to happen is No. 1, something very minor happens, maybe a change in routine, maybe there's a detour in the road, or maybe they take a cell phone call...one little change can put us off track," she said.

Police have tested the parents for drugs and alcohol, but more as a matter of process than suspicion.

The family also has a 2-year-old. Police found no sign of neglect but for now, that child is in protective custody.

Police will wait for an autopsy and toxicology results before going to the district attorney.


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