Coroner rules infant death accidental


by WHAS11

Posted on June 18, 2012 at 11:17 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 20 at 4:08 AM

(WHAS11) – The Jefferson County Coroner's Office has ruled the death of an 8-month-old child left for hours in a vehicle to be accidental.

According to the coroner, the boy's father forgot to drop him off at day care. Sharon Rengers, Supervisor of Child Advocacy for Norton Healthcare said the scenario is, unfortunately, not unheard of.

“You go to work, you park your car. You go to work and lots of times they've been out there 8 or 10 hours,” Rengers said.

The 8-month-old was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m. Monday at his family's home on the 6400 block of Glenwood Road, chief deputy coroner Jo-Ann Farmer said.

The boy's father left the home at about 7:30 a.m. and forgot to drop his son off at day care, instead he drove to his work on Ormsby Station Road. He didn't realize the child was still in the vehicle until he left work and went to his vehicle, Farmer said.

“If we change our routines, if we do something differently, we're still in that unconscious mode of how we get there, and people do forget,” Rengers said.

The father "frantically" drove home with the child - about five miles - and, at about 5:45 p.m., rushed the boy into the house and resuscitation attempts failed. The boy's mother and aunt are physicians, the aunt a pediatrician, Farmer said.

Farmer said the cause of death is complications of environmental exposure (ambient heat) due to entrapment in a closed motor vehicle.

No charges have been filed at this time. The commonwealth attorney’s office is awaiting the results of the police investigation to determine if the baby’s parents will be held criminally responsible. 

Leland Hulbert, assistant commonwealth’s attorney has not reviewed this particular case but says potential charges in similar cases have ranged depending on the circumstances.

“You’re looking at endangering the welfare of a minor which is a misdemeanor, you can look at wanton endangerment which I think has been charged before where we talked about the extreme indifference, but that extreme indifference where there's a death, you could also look all the way up to homicide”, says Hulbert.