THE GRAND RAPIDS PRESS
OCEANA COUNTY -- The 18-year-old woman thought she was protecting her infant son when she tucked him into a car seat, wrapped in a blanket, and left him in a car, said her mother and stepfather.
That was at 5:30 a.m. Monday, when it was cool outside.
More than seven hours later, at 1 p.m., as temperatures climbed into the mid-70s, a family friend found 3-month-old Michael Anthony McClure unconscious in the car.
The boy died later at a hospital of hyperthermia, an excessive body temperature, an autopsy found.
The boy's mother, Sabrina McClure, was "just devastated," said her mother, Debra Giraitis.
"She's not that kind of person to just leave her baby like that," she said. "She thought she was doing the right thing for him by getting him out of the cold. She loved that little guy. She took very good care of him. It was a tragic accident."
Sabrina McClure, who grew up in Hart, returned from California with her son about a week ago. Her husband, Michael McClure, is in the military, stationed in Guam.
She had come home to be with her sister, who is having a baby, her mother said.
She and friends spent part of the weekend baling hay on the family's farm on North 88th Avenue in Oceana County's Weare Township, according to her mother.
Her friends decided to camp out on the property instead of driving home. She and her son stayed with them.
They stayed up late Sunday night, sitting around the camp fire, before going to bed about 5 or 5:30 a.m. Monday, said Sabrina McClure's stepfather, Michael Giraitis.
It was cool that morning, so the mother tucked her baby in the car to keep him warm, Michael Giraitis said. The temperature in nearby Ludington dipped to 48 degrees at 5 a.m, according to the National Weather Service.
"They left the window down some," Giraitis said.
The car, he said, was parked under a tree, though the sun was moving.
"It doesn't take long if the sun hits the car for this to happen," he said.
Temperatures reached the upper 70s along the lakeshore Monday.
The Giraitises said they were told that the mother and friends checked on the baby regularly, the last time about 1 1/2 hours before he was found unconscious.
"They saw him awake and looking at them," Debra Giraitis said. "The next time they went over to check on him, he didn't look right."
Sheriff's Lt. Buzz Angell said there is no indication they were drinking. Deputies said the mother and her friends were never far from the child.
"It is not a case of they were drinking and carrying on and passed out and left the poor kid in the car," he said. "It's a tragic mistake."
Deputies weren't able to determine whether the car windows were open or closed because the vehicle was driven to the hospital, behind the ambulance.
The boy was taken by ambulance to Hackley Lakeshore Hospital in Shelby, where he died.
Authorities say the infant's mother moved to San Diego, where her husband was stationed at a military base before being sent to Guam.
Michael Giraitis said he planned to pick up the husband today at the airport. He'd been told that his son died, but he wasn't told how, he said.
The autopsy was performed at Spectrum Health Butterworth Campus in Grand Rapids.
The case remains under investigation, and authorities did not know whether charges would be brought.