Police in Parker County, Texas, are questioning the scenario wherein they found two children dead inside a locked parked car, apparently the victims of a hot car event. The mother of the children told authorities that she had found them unresponsive after discovering they had left the room where she had left them playing.
“The question is, can a 2-year-old open a car door and a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old climb inside and lock it,” Parker County Sheriff’s Capt. Mark Arnett told CNN in an interview. “In the course of the investigation, if charges are warranted, I’m sure the district attorney’s office will bring them.”
Police were alerted to the scene of the incident Friday (May 26) in a subdivision near Lake Weatherford (west of Fort Worth, Texas) around 4 p.m., according to USA Today. The mother told authorities that the children “took off.”
Sheriff’s Capt. Arnett told CNN that, according to the mother, she had last seen the children playing in a back room of their home. When she realized they were no longer in the room, she immediately searched the home. After the house search proved fruitless, the mother began looking outside for her children, where she eventually found them locked inside the family car.
The mother told police that the car doors were locked when she first realized her children were in the car. She broke one of the windows to gain access and found that both children were unresponsive.
The temperature in the area climbed to 96 degrees by that afternoon.
Arnett said that the mother claimed to have found one of the children with her cell phone and car keys.
He said the investigation into the hot car deaths was a joint effort by the Parker County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Rangers.
The Tarrant County medical examiner’s website, which handled the examination of the bodies, identified the victims as Juliet and Cavanaugh Ramirez. The little girl, the oldest of the two, celebrated her second birthday in February.
“This case is in the early stages of the investigation,” Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler said in a news release. “Any comment regarding this case at this time would be an assumption until all of the facts are gathered.”
The Texas hot car deaths occurred just a day after a woman was arrested in Riverdale, Utah, when she allegedly locked her two young children in the trunk of her car while she shopped at Walmart.
According to Deseret News, Riverdale Police were alerted to the Riverdale Walmart after receiving a call from a witness who claimed to see a woman lock two children in a car before leaving to go inside and shop.
Riverdale Police Lt. Casey Warren said that the two children, ages 2 and 5, started making noise and causing the car to shake. “Several good Samaritans observed this,” he said, “and came to the aid of the children.”
The observers were then able to instruct the 5-year-old, a girl, to pull an emergency latch located inside the trunk to allow both children to escape the confines of the trunk.
Lt. Warren said Child and Family Services was contacted afterward, and the children were then handed over to a responsible party.
Police interviewed the mother upon her return to the car. Tori Lee Castillo, 39, was arrested and booked into the Weber County jail for child abuse, Warren said.
Riverdale, which is south of Ogden, Utah, experienced temperatures in the mid-80s on Thursday.
According to KidsAndCars.org, 37 children die on average annually as victims, most as a result of parents unknowingly leaving a child in the back seat of a vehicle, of what is often referred to as hot car death.
[Featured Image by Prath/Shutterstock]