Baby dies after being left inside hot truck in Vestavia Hills

A 1-year-old died Friday after being found in a hot vehicle in Vestavia Hills, WVTM 13 has learned.

Fire and rescue crews were called to the NaphCare office parking lot off Columbiana Road, where a man found his infant son inside his hot pickup truck around 4:38 p.m. The infant, who had gone into cardiac arrest, was taken to Children's of Alabama, but he was pronounced dead shortly after arriving.

The baby's name hasn't been released.

"This incident is classified as a “Death Investigation” and ourInvestigators are working diligently to determine all of the factorssurrounding the cause and circumstances related to this tragedy," Vestavia Hills police said in a released statement. "We ask for everyone’s patience as we work to that end."

NaphCare confirmed the child's father is an employee of the company.

Toddler who died after being left in truck outside Vestavia Hills office building identified

Carol Robinson |
on April 10, 2017 at 1:47 PM, updated April 10, 2017 at 2:17 PM

Authorities today released the name of a little boy who died Friday after being left in a hot car outside of a Vestavia Hills office building.

The Jefferson County Coroner's Office identified the boy as Christian Evan Sanders. He was 1, and lived in eastern Jefferson County.

Vestavia Hills police and firefighters responded to the office building in the 2000 block of Columbiana Road at 4:38 p.m., said Vestavia Hills Fire Department Lt. Ryan Farrell. The call was on a child left in a vehicle, he said. The red Ford F-150 was parked in the rear parking lot of the NaphCare Building.

Christian's father, a software engineer at the company, had already taken the boy out of the vehicle by the time police and medics arrived. The boy was in cardiac arrest, Farrell said. First responders rushed the child to Children's of Alabama via a police escort, with area municipalities helping to clear the roadways for faster transport. The boy's father accompanied his son to the hospital.

The caravan arrived at Children's at 4:53 p.m. Christian was pronounced dead at 5:06 p.m., according to the coroner's office and police. The cause of death has not been confirmed pending the outcome of toxicology tests.

As of now, police are classifying the case as a death investigation only but will coordinate with the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office to determine whether any criminal charges are warranted. Vestavia Hills police Capt. Brian Gilham said Friday that is standard procedure and it's too soon to know whether that is a possibility.

Gilham stopped short of labeling the incident a "hot car death" pending the coroner's report.

Should authorities rule that being left in the car was the cause of Evan's death, it would be the fourth such death nationwide in 2017 and the first in Alabama, according to Jan Null, a certified consulting meteorologist at San Jose State University and one of the nation's leading experts on the dynamics of how hot vehicles can get and the tracking of heatstroke deaths of children in vehicles.

In 2016, she said, there were a total of 39 juvenile vehicular hyperthermia deaths nationwide, including two in Alabama.

Zachary Stacey Countryman, 7 months old, died on April 29, 2016 in Monroeville and his mother, Jennifer Bowden, charged with reckless manslaughter for leaving her son in a hot car at their home. The mom was arrested again a couple of months later on a public intoxication charge.

In September 2015, another 7-month-old child died at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. The child, whose identity wasn't released, was left in a parked vehicle during the work day and found about 4:42 p.m. The father, a NASA employee, was supposed to drop the child off at daycare. No additional information was ever released on that case.

Since 1998, 704 infants and children have died in hot vehicles in the U.S., with 17 of those in Alabama, Null said.

In addition to the two Alabama deaths last year, there were also several incidents where children survived.

In July 2016, a 1-year-old girl was found unconscious outside of her father's downtown office building after having been left in a vehicle for up to four hours, police said. Police said the father dropped the mother off at work and then went on to his office, where the baby was left in the car seat. She was eventually released from the hospital, but the extent of her recovery was never released.

Also in July, A 23-year-old Birmingham woman was arrested after police say she left her infant in a hot, locked car while she shopped. Deidra Nicole Williams was arrested in Alabaster on a charge of willful abuse of a child under the age of 18.

Alabaster police Chief Curtis Rigney said police received a call about 1:30 p.m. that Saturday to assist firefighters on a 5-month-old found inside a vehicle on First Street North. Initially investigators believed the baby had been in the vehicle for only a short amount of time, but Rigney said they later determined it was an extended period of time. He didn't have an exact amount of time.

Baby saved from hot, locked car while mom shopped
Baby saved from hot, locked car while mom shopped
"I would say within five or 10 minutes, that baby would have been dead,'' said Alabaster police Chief Curtis Rigney.

The windows were rolled up, the car was locked and it was not running, Rigney said. At the time the infant was found, the National Weather Service estimated the heat index outside of the car to be 102 degrees. Rigney said he isn't sure what the temperature inside the car was at the time the baby was discovered.

A preliminary hearing on Williams' case is scheduled for next month.

A week after the Alabaster incident, a Montgomery woman previously convicted of severely injuring a toddler boy was arrested after leaving her infant son in a hot car while she shopped at Walmart.

Javonda Latrice Weeks, 33, is charged with contributing to the dependency of a minor, which is a misdemeanor, said Montgomery police Capt. Zedrick Dean. She is also charged with probation violation.

Montgomery police and firefighters were called to the 800 block of Ann Street about 10 a.m. that Saturday after the 7-month-old boy - clad only in a diaper - was spotted unattended in the vehicle.

Dean said the windows had been left cracked and the vehicle was unlocked. Weeks was taken into custody, and the baby was placed into the custody of his father. The outcome of that case wasn't immediately available.

Of the 2016 deaths nationwide, 38 of them happened between March 15 through October 11, according to One of the deaths happened in January when the outside temperate was 52 degrees.

Null said with Friday's outside temperature in Birmingham at about 69 degrees, the inside air temperature of the car could have been in excess of 140 degrees. Objects or a person inside the car in direct sunlight would have been significantly hotter.

The investigation into Friday's death is ongoing. Gilham said Monday that police will not be releasing any additional information until the probe is complete.