Hot Car Death: Seven-Month-Old Texas Infant Becomes 27th Child Fatality This Year – Is Race A Factor In Criminal Charges? [Video]

Another hot car death has marred summer 2016. This time, the victim was a seven-month-old Texas infant reportedly left in a hot car for nine hours by his father. Allegedly, the unidentified father left the seven-month-old baby boy alone in the hot car in the parking lot of a Texas Walmart. The father is reportedly an employee of the retailer, and he didn’t realize that his son had been locked in the car all day until near the time that his shift ended on Friday afternoon.

According to reports, the father reported to work at around 6:15 a.m. Friday and didn’t return to his car until the afternoon. A passer-by reportedly saw the overheated infant in the father’s hot car after 3 p.m. and called emergency services.

While few details have been released thus far in the case, the father reportedly told law enforcement that he was supposed to have dropped the seven-month-old off at daycare before his Walmart shift began, but apparently he forgot to do so. His lapse in memory allegedly resulted in the 27th hot car death in the United States in 2016, reports USA Today.

Reportedly, when local law enforcement arrived on scene, the infant had already passed away. The child’s father was reportedly found at the site of the hot car death pounding on the side of the vehicle attempting to gain entrance to his car.

Because very few details have yet been released in this most recent hot car death, it is unknown why the father was unable to open the hot car himself before police arrived on scene.

Weather reports indicate that the temperature in the local area was roughly 100 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the day. It is likely that the seven-month-old baby who lost his life in the most recent U.S. hot car death passed away hours before his lifeless body was discovered by an unwitting witness.

After the infant’s lifeless body was discovered in the hot car, the child’s father was rushed to the hospital after claiming to suffer from chest pains after learning of the baby’s hot car death.

At this point, the investigation into the hot car death of the Texas seven-month-old is in its preliminary stages and no names have been released. Neither have charges been filed yet in this most recent U.S. hot car death.

According to Janette Fennell, founder and president of KidsAndCars.org, the number of American children who have lost their lives due to hot car deaths in 2016 is currently at 27. Of those 27 known 2016 hot car deaths, six have taken place in Texas (including the most recent seven-month-old).

2016 hot car deaths have well surpassed the number that tragically took place in 2015, according to multiple reports. In 2015, 15 U.S. children died in hot car-related deaths, most due to the complications associated with heat stroke.

While all child hot car deaths are equally tragic, the consequences for allowing a child to die in a hot car in the U.S. vary widely from circumstance to circumstance, jurisdiction to jurisdiction and prosecutor to prosecutor.

For example, prosecutors have declined to prosecute Amy Bryant of Mississippi for the May hot car death of her two-year-old, reports Fox News. On the other hand, Joshua Blunt, the father of an eight-month-old Mississippi infant who suffered a hot car death in July, is facing a manslaughter charge as a result of his daughter’s death. Attorneys for Blunt allege that he is being charged because of his race. Joshua Blunt is African-American, while Amy Bryant is Caucasian.

The father of 16-month-old Georgia twins who lost their lives in a pair of tragic hot car deaths is also being charged because his daughters died. As The Sun reports, Asa North is suspected of having been drinking at the time of his toddler’s hot car deaths. North is also African-American.

On July 22, a Pennsylvania four-year-old suffered a hot car death when she was forgotten in the car by her babysitter. Police in that incident have also opted not to prosecute her caregiver, calling the child’s death a horrific “accident,” reports US Weekly. In that hot car death, the four-year-old was forgotten in the car when the babysitter went to work.

However, when a Florida three-year-old died on July 26 as a result of injuries he’d sustained in a hot car just days before, his African-American caregiver was charged with aggravated manslaughter, reports Alabama.com. In that case, the boy’s 19-year-old aunt and babysitter, Montana Jackson, apparently lost track of the child while she was responsible for his care. The hot car death resulted in the boy locking himself in a hot car for three hours. Reportedly, his aunt found him there and contacted first responders, but he was unable to survive the devastating extent of his hot car injuries.

What do you think? Could race possibly be a factor when authorities decide whether or not to charge a responsible adult in a child’s hot car death? Should the U.S. implement uniform guidelines when it comes to charging adults for the hot car deaths of children?

[Image via ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock]