Toddler found dead in parked car near Abilene
By TIM UNRUH Salina Journal

ABILENE — An 18-month-old girl was found dead Sunday afternoon in a hot car parked at the family’s home.

Dickinson County Sheriff Gareth Hoffman said Olivia Ann Engstrom, the daughter of Clifford and Sharon Engstrom, was found not breathing. The sheriff’s office was notified at 6:15 p.m.

Olivia was pronounced dead at the scene and not taken to a hospital, Hoffman said.

The toddler was playing outside with her siblings in the 2800 block of Lark Road, about 5 miles northeast of Abilene.

“This particular child somehow got shut up in the vehicle while the kids were out playing,” Hoffman said. “We’re not sure how long the child was in the car. She was last seen at about 2 p.m.”

How the girl died hasn’t been determined, the sheriff said. All that’s known is the child was found in a hot car.

“There’s nothing, at this point, pointing towards foul play, but I don’t want to be a coroner,” Hoffman said. “We are assuming they were playing. Another kid had the door open.”

He described what happened as “horrible,” but emphasized he was not judging the parents.

“Sometimes parents get pulled in five different directions,” Hoffman said. “As a parent, it’s every parent’s number one nightmare, something happening to a child. People don’t understand that until they become parents. They truly do become your life, or they’re supposed to.”

With triple-digit heat forecast throughout this week, he asked that everyone heed this tragic news as a warning,

“People need to be mindful of the hot weather conditions and how fast those things can spiral out of control,” Hoffman said. “It’s a busy world and people get busy and get to doing stuff, and we sometimes forget just how quick extreme heat can take over the human body. That’s young and old. It doesn’t matter.”

-- Reporter Tim Unruh can be reached at 822-1419 or by email at