Hot Car Death: Autistic Teenager In Japan Dies After Being Left In Van For Hours By Caregivers

An autistic teenager died after being forgotten about and left in a van for several hours in 91-degree heat, the Independent is reporting.

Authorities say the 19-year-old, whose name has not been released, was found slumped over in his seat in a van parked outside of Cosmos Earth, the care facility where he lived in Ageo, Saitama Prefecture. At around 9 a.m. local time on Thursday, according to Kyodo News, care workers were helping other disabled individuals out of the van and, apparently, forgot about the autistic man. As the facility was closing down for the day, at around 4 p.m., workers discovered that he was still in there, barely alive. He was taken to a hospital, where he later died of heat stroke.

The temperature outside that day was 33 degrees Celsius, or about 91.4 Fahrenheit. The young man’s body temperature on arrival at the hospital was 41.4 degrees Celsius, or about 106.5. By comparison, normal human body temperature is 37 degrees Celsius, or 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Kenji Otsuka, the manager of the facility, issued an apology to the man’s family.

“I apologize to him and to his family from the bottom of my heart.”

The police are investigating the accident as a crime and may file criminal charges of professional negligence resulting in death.

Ageo, Saitama, where an autistic teenager died from being left in a hot van. [Image by Ebiebi2/Wikimedia Commons/Cropped and Resized/CC BY-SA 3.0]

Generally, whenever a hot car death makes the news, the victim is a small child or an animal. However, disabled individuals, who often don’t know how to get themselves out of a vehicle, have also died from being left in a hot vehicle.

As WLS (Chicago) reported in June, authorities in the town of Momence, Illinois, say a resident of a group home for developmentally disabled adults died from being left in a hot van. Charles McLaughlin, 69, had been a resident of Good Shepherd Manor. The elderly man was found dead by caregivers at about 5:15 p.m. after having been left there in 90-degree heat for several hours.

Similarly, in November of 2016, Debra King, then 56, was found guilty of criminal negligence for leaving a severely mentally disabled man to die in the back of a hot van. As the Dallas Morning News reported at the time, Terrance Sanders, 29, had been left in the hot van for several hours when he was found.

[Featured Image by kurmyshov/Shutterstock]

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