VPD: Toddler dead after
being left in hot car while mom tended to weed plants
A toddler was left alone for nearly three hours inside a
vehicle on a scorching hot summer day, according to Visalia
The 3-year-old girl died despite family and
first responders' life-saving efforts.
mother now faces allegations of involuntary manslaughter after
police say she left the child in the vehicle while she tended to
marijuana plants being grown on the property.
5:47 p.m. Thursday, officers and paramedics were called to the
100 block of West Perez Avenue regarding a 3-year-old girl who
was not breathing. The neighborhood is just east of the Food 4
Less shopping center on Dinuba Boulevard.
An officer was
on an unrelated call across the street from the home and was on
scene "within seconds," Sgt. Mike Verissimo said. The patrol
officer took over CPR from family members who were trying to
revive the child. Firefighters and paramedics arrived a short
The toddler was rushed to Kaweah Health
medical center, where she died. The child was identified as
Violent crimes detectives took over the
"Based on statements obtained by
detectives, it is believed that Jessica was left in the vehicle
for two-and-a-half-to-three hours prior to being discovered,"
Detectives interviewed Jessica’s mother,
Eustajia Mojica Dominguez. The 28-year-old mother told
detectives she left her daughter in the car and was tending to a
marijuana grow and processing marijuana, Verissimo said.
At the time of the incident, temperatures reached at least 100
degrees. The temperature inside a vehicle can jump 50 degrees in
an hour, making even moderate daytime temperatures deadly.
Additionally, children’s bodies are more quickly and severely
affected by high temperatures, according to public safety
It's unknown if any windows were left down or
if the car's air conditioning was running. However, advocates
say that children should never be left unattended inside a car
even if the windows are down and the air conditioning is on.
The department's Narcotics and the Special Enforcement units
were called to the scene to investigate the marijuana grow. In
total, 70 mature marijuana plants, 80 immature marijuana plants,
and roughly 475 pounds of processed marijuana were found at the
home, Verissimo said.
Four children — a 15- and
11-year-old and two 9-month-old babies — were found inside the
home. The children were turned over to Child Welfare Services,
Four other adults were at the home when
police arrived. The additional suspects were identified as:
Araceli Mojica, 33
Emmanuel Ortiz-Aguilar, 34
Aguilar Ortiz, 27
Victor Flores Corona, 41
suspects were booked into the Tulare County Pretrial Facility on
suspicion of child endangerment. Eustajia Dominguez Mojica was
booked in jail on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter and
child endangerment. She's being held on $75,000 bail and is
expected in court on Monday where her bail amount could be
Drug charges related to the marijuana grow are
being recommended to the Tulare County District Attorney’s
Office against all the suspects, Verissimo said.
safety officials also urge community members who see a child
alone in a vehicle to immediately call 911 or the local
According to data collected by
KidsAndCars.org, over 1,000 children have died from heatstroke
in hot cars since 1990. The year 2018 had the most child hot car
deaths with 54 children killed.
California Office of
Emergency Services suggests the following precautions to prevent
a heatstroke tragedy from occurring:
Never leave a child
unattended in a vehicle — even if the windows are partially open
or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on.
a habit of looking in the vehicle — front and back — before
locking the door and walking away.
Ask the childcare provider
to call if the child doesn’t show up within the timeframe
Do things that serve as a reminder that a child is
in the vehicle, such as placing a phone, purse or wallet in the
back seat with the child, or writing a note or using a stuffed
animal placed in the driver’s view to indicate a child is in the
Teach children that a vehicle is not a play area.
Store keys out of a child’s reach. Keep empty cars locked.
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