A Texas man is behind bars after leaving his six-month-old baby girl in his car in 96 degree weather. The incident occurred on Tuesday, near Melissa, Texas.
New York Daily News reports that Michael Thedford, 33, reportedly dropped his two older children off at daycare on Tuesday but apparently left his youngest child in the vehicle when he returned home. The infant girl remained in the vehicle for hours before she was found unconscious.
According to Capt. Jim Moody of the Collin County Sheriff’s Department, at around 1:30 p.m., deputies were called to Thedford’s home, on the 1400 block of Milrany Lane, about 30 miles south of Dallas.
When deputies arrived, they found the baby still inside the vehicle, a minivan, parked only a few steps away from the family home. Paramedics arrived shortly after and took the unresponsive infant to a local hospital while residents of the community watched.
Fabiola Contreras, who lives across the street from the Thedford family, was shocked that someone would forget a baby, especially given the hot Texas heat.
“Forgetting a child? His child? It’s hard to believe because how can you forget a child in your own car? It’s your child. It’s really hot especially if you’re in a car, it’s way hotter.”
She also said she saw deputies talking to both Thedford and his wife. The wife was crying, according to Contreras, and Thedford hugged her a few times. Other witnesses stated that it looked like authorities were making Thedford reenact the incident while holding a doll.
Contreras added that Thedford, a substitute teacher and author of a children’s book, held a Mickey Mouse doll while investigators spoke to him and walked him around his minivan. She couldn’t make out what they were saying, but she said that authorities were recording the ordeal.
“They used a Mickey Mouse type of doll for him to show what happened and now that I think about it, they also were measuring from the van to the door now that I remember.”
She also stated that Thedford seemed shy and serious but never did anything out of the ordinary, and the entire family seemed caring toward each other. On Sunday, she noticed the Thedford family celebrating Father’s Day.
“It’s kind of shocking how this happened because on Sunday we saw family members and them having a good time for Father’s Day.”
Once the baby arrived at the hospital, physicians attempted to revive her, but she passed away. Thedford was subsequently arrested and charged with manslaughter.
According to the Department of Meteorology & Climate Science at San Jose University, a total of 16 children already died from heatstroke while in a car, in 2016 alone, making the six-month-old girl the 17th child to die in a vehicle this year.
Earlier this month, another six-month-old infant died in Iowa after his father, Lance Williams Sr., left him in a hot, sweltering vehicle to go visit a barber shop. When Williams returned, the baby boy was unresponsive. The infant was already deceased when he arrived at a hospital, according to Sgt. Paul Parizek of the De Moines County police. Williams was arrested and charged with child endangerment resulting in death.
In 2014, Justin Ross Harris of Atlanta left his 22-month-old son in the car for an entire day while he was working. The child ultimately died from heatstroke. Harris is currently on trial for murder.
CNN reports that almost three times as many children have died in cars this year when compared to this time last year. In every case, it could have been prevented had their caregivers been more diligent. Amy Artuso, program manager for the National Safety Council, stated that the deaths tend to occur when caregivers have a change in routine, leading to distraction.
“It does seem to be a distraction issue. We don’t have anything scientific to back it up, but more deaths do seem to happen toward the end of the week.”
Meanwhile, Michael Thedford remains in the Collin County jail, with a $20,000 bail.
[Photo by Collin County Sheriff’s Department]