Baby Dies While Left in Hot Car
July 13, 2005, 09:22 PM

Dangerously high summer temperatures keep rising in the Las Vegas Valley with little relief in sight. And the extreme, near record-breaking temperatures are proving to be deadly.

A local baby has died after being left inside a hot car. Unfortunately, safety advocates knew it was only a matter of time before this summers' temperatures claimed their first young life in the valley. And sadly they say it won't be the last unless parents and caregivers stop and realize that it could happen to anyone.

As hard as it may be to believe that someone could forget to remove a child from a hot car, it happens every summer -- and not just here. Last year alone, 35 American children died in hot cars. So far this year, 12 children have died.

The latest victim was a 16-month-old Las Vegas boy, Jossiah Diaz, who died after being left in his car seat for three hours out in front of a relative's home.

Lt. Lisa Teele, with Metro Child Abuse and Neglect, said, "At this point, it would appear the father went into the residence and forgot the child was inside the car."

On the day of the incident, Friday, July 8, outside temperatures climbed to 105 degrees. Investigators estimate the temperature inside the car soared to 150 degrees.

Child safety advocates say a young child could suffer serious permanent injuries within just minutes at those temperatures.

Erin Breen, with UNLV's Safe Community, says, "Brain damage is the consequence. That's the organ that fails first because of the heat. It's not worth the risk."

Parents and caregivers are urged to devise a system of reminders to try and prevent these tragedies -- with the first step being to realize it could happen to you.

Lt Teele says, "In any instance, it's devastating to lose a child. But as a community, we need to supervise our children, communicate with each other and just know where our children are at all times."

Police say the father could face felony child endangerment charges. But prosecution is unlikely unless police find evidence he intended to harm his child by leaving him in the car.

A new law just passed in the Nevada State Legislature will make leaving a child in a car illegal regardless of intent. It takes effect in October.