Girl, 2, dies after being left in car

TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) Temple Police responded to a missing child who was later found inside a vehicle at the 1600 block of East Barton Ave.

Officers discovered that the two-year-old girl had been inside the vehicle for at least an hour prior to their arrival, Temple Police Public Information Officer Shawana Neely said.

Temple Fire and Rescue provided CPR on scene then transported the child to Baylor Scott and White Hospital where she was pronounced deceased.

Temple Police Department's General Investigation's Unit is currently investigating this incident.

Temple PD asks anyone with information to please contact the police department at 254-298-5500.

Preliminary autopsy in for Temple girl found in hot van


Posted on Jul 13, 2016by Deborah McKeon

A preliminary autopsy report on the 2-year-old girl who died Sunday in Temple in a hot minivan came back as pending on both the cause and reason for her death, according to Bell County Justice of the Peace Don Engleking.
“A pending result means the medical examiners are still looking at the case for some reason,” Engleking said.
An obituary lists the 2-year-old girl as Lela Marie Petrarca, and her parents are David and Vanessa Holland Petrarca, all of Temple.

Lela was found just after 4:33 p.m. inside a hot vehicle in the driveway of her home in the 1600 block of East Barton Avenue. She wasn’t strapped into her child’s car seat in the family’s white Honda Odyssey van, Temple Officer Shawana Neely, spokeswoman, said.

The initial 911 call at 4:21 p.m. was for a missing child. Temple Police officers joined the family’s search effort and found Lela unresponsive in the van. Temple Fire & Rescue personnel began CPR at the scene and transported her to Baylor Scott & White Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead by Engleking.
Lela was in the van for at least an hour, Neely said.

Lela’s mother shared her story of what happened Sunday on a Monday Facebook post.
Vanessa Petrarca said in an earlier post that she has stage four breast cancer. She said that she and her family went to Mass early Sunday morning and stopped on the way home for donuts. When they got home, her husband ran errands while the children stayed home and played.

Petrarca said she needed a nap and her husband was up with the children. She could hear Lela playing the keyboard through the wall, and that’s the last thing she heard before she went to sleep, Petrarca said.
She said she woke up when her husband ran in the room and asked if Lela was there. They called 911, searched the house and her husband ran down the street. The police arrived, searched the neighborhood and found Lela in the car, she said. Petrarca said Lela had taken the fuzzy pink covers off one of the seat belts and had played with it.

“She climbed up in her car seat like she did every time we would go anywhere. She closed herself in the car,” Petrarca wrote. “I wish it was me.”

In another post, Petrarca wrote, “She is in heaven, with no pain, no fear, but I would give up anything to have her back. I would give anything for our family to be together on earth right now.”

She also said she has never known pain like this before.
“I don’t want anyone to ever have to feel this pain.”

On Wednesday the Telegram sent a request to Temple Police the names of the 2-year-old girl and her parents, and requested the incident report Tuesday night.

“This case is currently being investigated, as you were informed earlier. Temple Police Department is not at liberty to give out any further information in reference to this case for risk of compromising the investigation,” Neely responded in an email.

Updates won’t be available until the investigation is finished and the case is reviewed by the Bell County District Attorney’s office, Officer Shawana Neely said. That information will include the autopsy results, she said.

As for the incident reports, the Telegram’s request will be handled as an open records request under the Public Information Act, Lacy Borgeson said in an emailed response to Sonia Alexander, the city of Temple public records administrator.