Tragedies in the news

This page is divided into two sections:

Dogs dying in hot cars

Children dying in hot cars


Fourth pit bull found in hot car put down

KXTV (ABC) Sacramento, CA August 10, 2014.

SACRAMENTO – A fourth dog left in a hot car with three other dogs had to be euthanized, Dr. Jean Rabinowitz with the Sacramento County Animal Care confirmed Sunday morning.

Rabinowitz said the two-year-old pitbull they named Della was suffering from kidney failure and had been in intensive care for 18 hours at a Sacramento veterinary hospital. The pit bull only had a 30 percent chance of survival.

“She’s depressed. She’s bleeding out, and she’s vomiting. It’s sad,” Senior Animal Control Officer Libby Simmons told News10 Saturday. “It’s sad, and it’s completely preventable.”

Della was the lone surviving pit bull after an owner left four pit bulls in crates inside his SUV with no water, shade and only cracked windows for at least two hours Friday afternoon.

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Police canine dies after air-conditioning in car fails

Greenberg-Spartanville (SC) Examiner, September 21, 2014.

According to Friday’s publication of Greenville Online, the Greenville Spartanburg, South Carolina, Airport Police patrol car which held a police canine who died when the air-conditioning failed, did not have a special device which may have prevented her tragic death.

Emma, a Labrador retriever who was trained to be a bomb-sniffing canine, died inside of her handler’s patrol car last Monday. The seven-year-old dog had been left inside of the Crown Victoria patrol car, with the air-conditioning on, while her handler, Cpl. Chris Richau, was away a law enforcement issue inside of the airport terminal.

At some point during the 90 minute time period that the dog’s handler was away, the air-conditioning inside of the vehicle malfunctioned and Emma died from heat-related issues.

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Police dog dies after being left in hot car

by Sue Thurman,, July 12, 2012.  Excerpts:

It is with a heavy heart this news is reported. A police dog named Jeg, has suffered from being left in a hot car. He later had to be euthanized from his experience.  Think for a moment about the extreme heat most of us have been suffering through this summer. Now, imagine a dog left in a blistering hot car, unattended. That is what happened in Tucson, Arizona today due to a police officer leaving his dog partner in the car. Channel 3TV reported the tragedy on their evening news.

“Officials say that a drug-sniffing dog for the Arizona Department of Public Safety had to be euthanized after being left unattended in a hot squad car for more than an hour.  The Arizona Daily Star reports that DPS has asked Tucson police to conduct a criminal investigation in the case.  DPS says the Belgian Malinois named Jeg was rushed to a veterinary hospital Wednesday.  His temperature was extremely high when he was found.” [More]

Police dogs die in hot car – a persistent and preventable tragedy

By Carol Harris,, July 27, 2012

Every summer brings an onslaught of dogs dying in hot cars. On July 27, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office in San Antonio, Texas announced Deputy Steve Benoy has been placed on 10 days of administrative leave after two police dogs died in a hot SUV.

Allegedly the officer parked the department vehicle at his home on Tuesday and went out for the evening; forgetting the dogs were still in the SUV. He found their lifeless bodies on Wednesday morning.  This story is especially tragic because K9s are considered an officer’s partner and partners put their trust in each other. Police are responsible for upholding the law, and when they themselves violate the law, they violate the trust of the public. […]

People routinely take their pets on errands and leave the animals in the car. Some do it out of habit and others will offer the excuse, “He gets upset when I leave him at home.”  In almost every incident where a dog has died in a hot car, the owner has claimed they were gone only a few minutes. In some cases, security cameras have shown the animals were left unattended for as long as two hours. [More]

April 2011: 1 dog dies in hot car, second taken away from owner


Louisiana father won’t face charges after infant dies in hot car

WVLA/ NBC Baton Rouge, June 26, 2012. Excerpt [emphasis added]

The death of an 11-month-old has a community shocked, and wondering why no charges have been filed. We spoke with the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, and they explained the situation.  […]

We’re told that at some point in time, the father went to his place of employment and left the infant in the car. The exact details regarding his actions from when he left his home to when he found his child were not released. However, investigators have confirmed the exterior temperature reached 99 degrees and inside the closed vehicle that would have been considerably higher. Reports say the infant could have been in the vehicle for as long as six hours.

“As it stands now, our investigators have not found that there’s any clear criminal connection,” Cpt. Judice said. “This is the most tragic of incidents. This is a situation that’s based on the pressures of today’s times. We’re all so distracted.”  When the father realized what happened, he took the child to Women’s and Children’s Hospital. However, the baby was declared dead minutes after arriving.

University law school employee leaves baby in car, dies (in 66 degree weather)

By Lisa Provence, The Hook (Charlottesville, VA), April 2007.  Excerpts [emphasis added]:

The infant son of an employee at the Judge Advocate General’s School at UVA died after being left in the car March 30.

University police dispatched Friday afternoon found a baby at 4:01pm who was not breathing in the parking lot at the JAG School. The mother was on the scene, says UVA police Captain Michael Coleman, who declined to give any other details, citing the ongoing investigation and the delay in receiving medical examiner results.  The baby died of hyperthermia, and the death has been ruled accidental, says Rochelle Altholz of the state medical examiner’s office.

The high temperature (in Charlottesville, VA) on March 30 was a comfortable 66 degrees– “absolutely” warm enough to cause the death of an infant in a car, especially over an extended period of time, says Null… an adjunct professor at San Francisco State University who tracks incidents of hyperthermia… who notes that children have died in cars with the temperature as low as 63 degrees.

“Basically the car becomes a greenhouse,” Null says. At 70 degrees on a sunny day, after a half hour, the temperature inside a car is 104 degrees, he says. After an hour, it can reach 113 degrees.

Heat stroke occurs when the body temperature reaches 104 degrees and the victim becomes disoriented, convulsive, and unconscious.

Hospital CEO Leaves Child to Die in Hot Car

ABC News, July 5, 2000. Excerpts [emphasis added]:

Authorities in Iowa are trying to decide whether to file charges against a hospital CEO whose 7-month-old daughter died after being accidentally left in a minivan while she rushed off to attend meetings.  The county medical examiner has ruled the death accidental, but prosecutors have yet to decide whether to charge Kari Engholm over the death of her daughter Clare.

Engholm left Clare in a minivan last month on a day when outside temperatures approached 90 degrees. Engholm was rushing to attend a series of meetings at Dallas County Hospital in Perry, Iowa.  Engholm’s family, it seems, has forgiven her, calling the death a tragic mistake, the result of an overstressed woman who was used to her husband dropping the little girl off with the baby sitter. […]

The case is just one in a rash of such incidents this year. Earlier this month, a Southern California foster mother left a 3-year-old girl in a sport utility vehicle for 15 minutes and she died, succumbing to 108-degree temperatures.

  • In May, a Colorado woman left her 13-month-old son strapped in a baby seat while she went to work at a McDonald’s. She is charged with child abuse resulting in death and could face 16 to 48 years in prison. […]
  • In March, a Texas woman returned to her car after a day at work at a shopping mall to find her 5-month-old son dead, overcome by heat. She said she was sure she had dropped him off at daycare. Though the temperatures that day only climbed into the 70s, police said the temperature inside the car was probably more than 100 degrees.

When temperatures outside range from 80 degrees to 100 degrees, the temperature inside a car parked in direct sunlight can quickly climb to between 130 to 172, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The temperature inside a closed car rises most quickly during the first 15 minutes that it is left in the sun, according to the CDC.


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