Dead baby left alone in car for several hours, police say

By Katya Yefimova and Jackson Holtz
Herald writers

LYNNWOOD Police are investigating the death of a baby boy who was found in a car this afternoon.

The 1-year-old apparently was left alone for hours in a vehicle in the parking lot of Sunrise of Lynnwood, an assisted living center located in the 18600 block of 60th Avenue W, Lynnwood police spokeswoman Shannon Sessions said.

The boy's mother works at the nursing home. Sessions said the boy may have been in the car since about 7 a.m. today.

"We don't know if she left him so she could go to work" or if she forgot, Sessions said.

The woman went to her car at about 2 p.m., realized the boy was unresponsive, and carried him into the nursing home's lobby to seek help. The child was dead when police and firefighters arrived.

Detectives were at the scene this afternoon, interviewing the mother. They were awaiting a search warrant before beginning their examination of the car.

It is against state law to leave a child under 7 unattended in a vehicle. Somebody at least 12 must be present.

Sessions said she did not know if the car's windows were up or down when help was summoned. The Snohomish County Medical Examiner will determine why the boy died, she added.

"We are investigating everything surrounding" the death, she said.

Experts said that even if the windows were down, temperatures in the small car likely would have soared today to dangerous levels. They warn that children are particularly at risk of fatal overheating if left unattended in a car.

It reached 69 degrees today at Paine Field, just north of Lynnwood.

Judy Monson, 52, Lynnwood, lives down the street from where the child died. She attends church next door, and happened by the scene this afternoon

"I feel very bad for her. It is unfortunate," she said of the dead boy's mother. "My hope and prayers, really, for the mom."

April 8, 2009
LYNNWOOD -- The infant who died Monday after being left in a car for seven hours was identified as Joshua Michael Dela Cruz, the Snohomish County medical examiner said.

The cause of the 1-year-old's death is "pending further study," the medical examiner said.

Joshua's mother was arrested and briefly jailed Monday night for investigation of second-degree manslaughter.

The Everett woman, 21, told Lynnwood police detectives she left Joshua unattended in a car at 7 a.m., Lynnwood police spokeswoman Shannon Sessions said.

The woman worked at the Sunrise of Lynnwood nursing home. Her car was in the parking lot. Outside temperatures Monday reached 69 degrees at Paine Field.

When the mother returned to her car at 2 p.m., she found Joshua unresponsive and rushed him indoors to summon help.

Efforts to revive the child were unsuccessful, Sessions said.

The mother was booked into the Lynnwood city jail and immediately released on her own recognizance as the investigation continues.

It is against state law and Lynnwood municipal code to leave a child under 7 unattended in a vehicle. Somebody at least 12 must be present.

People are charged with second-degree manslaughter in cases where prosecutors believe the death was the unintentional result of negligence. The state must prove recklessness in first-degree manslaughter cases.

Joshua's mother has not been charged.