Moraga police say toddler dies after being left in car on warm afternoon

MORAGA, Calif. (KGO) -- An 18-month-old girl who was inadvertently left in a car by a family member on a warm Tuesday afternoon in Moraga has been pronounced dead, according to police Chief Jon King.

Police and firefighters responded to a medical call in the first block of Hardie Drive around 3:50 p.m.

The toddler has been identified as Lily Aracic.

The dispatcher reported that there was someone screaming and crying on the other end of the line. Police arriving at the scene found the child to be unresponsive, not breathing and they began rescue-breathing until paramedics with the Moraga-Orinda Fire District could take over.

Moraga police chief Jon King says his officers tried to revive the toddler - who wasn't breathing.

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"The first officer on scene began CPR, was quickly relieved by the firefighters who had arrived, and they performed every life-saving measure they could," King said.

The girl was transported to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek and was pronounced dead.

Neighbors say the vehicle was parked outside of a home daycare.

Young Lily is the 46th person in the U.S. to die from heat related issues inside a hot car this year.

San Jose State Meteorology professor Jan Null has maintained a national database ( with information about children who have died in hot cars.

He says changes in routine, among other factors, can lead to tragedy.

Null explained this type of tragedy only started to take shape in the late 80's and early 90's, when cars were coming equipped with airbags. Back then, Null says infants and children who were restrained in the front seat were being injured and sometimes killed in collisions.

"The rules came out to move children to the back seat," he said. "That was also about the same time that we went from front-facing child seats for small children, to rear-facing seats."

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Null adds the changes put small children out of sight for drivers, and as we soon learned, also out of mind.

In this case, investigators believe the child was accidentally left in the vehicle by a family member who immediately called for help after finding her. At the time, the temperature outside was roughly 80 degrees.

Null estimates the inside of the car would have been 130 degrees or hotter. And, if the child was in a car seat that was in direct sunlight it would have been even hotter than that," Null said.

The official cause of death is still under investigation, pending the results of an autopsy.

"We're basically still in the process of looking through things and interviewing people and figuring out exactly what occurred," King said Wednesday afternoon.

In the meantime, Null offers some safety recommendations including leaving a purse or wallet with the baby. Doing so will force drivers to check the back seat before leaving the vehicle.

He also suggests, in the case of a broken routine, that parents notify daycare workers ahead of time. If the toddler isn't dropped off, employees should know to contact parents immediately.

Bay City News has contributed to this report.
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