Investigation remains open days after boy found dead inside hot car, authorities say

Police say toddler's mother left child in car while she was at work

By Alex Finnie - Reporter

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. - Pembroke Pines police are remaining tight-lipped Monday about the details surrounding the death of a 17-month-old boy who was found dead last week after being left in a hot car for more than eight hours.

"I was like, 'Wow.' I didn't know the kid was dead," witness Gabriella Fernandez said. "To me, it looked like he was sleeping. I didn't want to think something bad when I saw it."

Fernandez, a mother herself, works as a dental assistant at a medical plaza in the 2200 block of North University Drive, where the boy was found in the parking lot. She said she saw the toddler in the car around 5 p.m. Friday.

"When they took the kid out I was just like, 'Wow. What happened?' Everyone was just crying" Fernandez said. 

According to police, the boy's mother had arrived at work Friday and left the child in the car all day. When the call came in to police hours later, they rushed the child to a hospital and tried to save him, but were unsuccessful.

Sgt. Adam Feiner told reporters at a Friday evening news conference that the car's engine was off and the windows were rolled up. 

Police said drugs and alcohol were not factors in the incident. It's unclear whether the mother will face charges.

The boy's death remains under investigation.

Unfortunately, tragedies like this all too common in Florida.

Damon Cruz was just 1 years old when he died in Westchester in March after being accidentally left in a hot car while his mother was also at work. 

State Rep. Emily Slosberg, Democrat-Boca Raton, is hoping to tighten Florida law by introducing a bill that would prohibit anyone from leaving a child alone in a car for any amount of time. 

Leaving children 6 and older alone in a car for 15 minutes is currently legal in the state of Florida. 

"It would change it so that any person could not leave a child under 6 in a car for any amount of time," Slosberg said. "Fifteen minutes is just too long."

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