RIDGEFIELD, Conn. - The Ridgefield Police Department learned of the death of a 15-month-old boy who was left in a hot vehicle Monday from the staff at Danbury Hospital, according to the statement from police.
"The father drove his 15-month-old son to the hospital after discovering him in his vehicle," Ridgefield Police Capt. Jeff Kreitz said in an email at 10:21 p.m. Tuesday. "The family resides in Ridgefield."
At this time the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) has not determined the infant’s cause of death," the email said. "The cause is listed as pending."
Ridgefield police offered few details on the case involving the heat-related death of the boy, and Kreitz earlier had refused to answer questions from the media after a brief news conference Tuesday outside the police department.
The 15-month-old boy was left unattended Monday inside the parked vehicle in Ridgefield as temperatures soared to nearly 90 degrees with high humidity, according to a police statement.
"On July 7, 2014, at approximately 6 p.m. the Ridgefield Police Department was notified about the tragic death of a 15-month-old boy," said the first statement from the Ridgefield police. "It was reported to police that the infant was left unattended inside of a parked vehicle for an extended period of time. The cause of death is yet to be determined. Police are investigating this incident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time."
Kreitz read the full statement above to an afternoon news conference attended by local media as well as media from across Connecticut and the metro New York region.
The cause of death is listed as pending with the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
The identity of the toddler and his family was not released. It was not known where the car was parked, why the young child was in the car, whether any charges would be filed or any further circumstances of the case. The Ridgefield Fire Department said it was not involved, and no 911 calls were received about the case.
Longtime Ridgefield resident Barbara Baughman said the boy's tragic death was a stark reminder of how she almost lost her youngest daughter in a similar way. In 2002, the family accidentally left then-1-year-old Emma in the car for 45 minutes at their home, she said.
The car window was wide open and Emma was safe, but Baughman and her family invented Emma’s Inspirations, or little rhymes on a car window decal to remind parents to double check their cars. The decal says, "Closed cars don't breathe, check your seats before you leave," with stick figures of two kids, a dog and a cat.
The Connecticut State Police cautioned residents about the dangers of leaving a child in a hot car.
"Leaving a child of any age unattended inside a closed and/or locked vehicle when summer temperatures begin to sizzle is dangerous" and can be fatal, the Connecticut State Police said in a statement released Tuesday.
The danger escalates even further in summer, said Gary Lessor, assistant to the director of Meteorological Studies and Weather Center at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.
"Whenever the sun is at a high enough angle, which s basically from May through early September, you should never leave people or pets in the car," Lessor said. "Even on a 70-degree day with sunshine, the temperature in the car can still rise above 100 degrees because the solar radiation gets trapped in the car."
The New Canaan Police put out the child safety tips in three steps:
- Never leave a child alone in a car.
- Look in your vehicle before locking the door.
- Call 911 if you see a child left in a car.
In 2013, 44 children nationwide died due to automobile heat-related deaths, and 15 have died this year.