2-year-old dies in Washington County after being left in van

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ST. GEORGE — A 2-year-old child has died after being left in a van in Washington County.

After receiving a 911 call at approximately 6:34 p.m. Saturday, law enforcement and emergency personnel were dispatched to a report of an unresponsive child at a residence in Winchester Hills, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Monday.

When first responders arrived on scene, they determined the child was deceased.

The child’s name has not yet been released. Monday evening, Washington County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the child was a boy, correcting earlier reports from another source. (See editor’s note.)

The 2-year-old had been attending a family reunion in the area with several families from out of state, according to the Sheriff’s Office. More than five families and between 25-35 children were temporarily residing at the Winchester Hills home while participating in the reunion events.

“The families had traveled to St. George for an activity with the children using multiple vehicles,” the Sheriff’s Office said in the statement. “They returned to Winchester Hills and prepared for a religious meeting in St. George, consisting of only adults.”

The 2-year-old and several other children were passengers of a coach-style van.

“It was suspected the child had fallen asleep during the return trip and did not exit the vehicle with the other children and adults,” officials said. “This was unknown to the adults as they prepared for their meeting.”

As other adult family members returned to the residence, they noticed the child was not present, and they began searching the residence and surrounding areas.

The boy was then discovered in the van by the father. It is unclear how long he had been in the van before being found.

“The investigation is ongoing and will be screened by the Washington County Attorney’s Office for potential criminal liability as part of standard protocol,” officials said Monday. “However, the initial investigation appears the incident was a tragic accident.”

KidsAndCars.org has now documented 15 children who have died this year in the U.S. due to heatstroke in a vehicle. Since 1996, at least 12 child deaths due to vehicular heatstroke have occurred in Utah, Kidsandcars.org representatives said Monday.

Ed. note: The child referred to in this report was initially reported as a girl based on an email to St. George News from kidsandcars.org. Washington County Sheriff’s Office later confirmed the child as a boy, and this report is corrected accordingly.

Email: kscott@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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24 Comments

  • debbie June 26, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    this is getting entirely too routine! with all the hype about this, what is going on!!! i don’t remember of this happening to anyones child in the 70s and 80’s when i was growing up. why NOW with all the fancy buttons and gadgets? is this just all cell phones and people getting distracted? dang i wish we could just go back to landlines.. things r just nuts!

    • Brian June 26, 2017 at 1:09 pm

      This is heartbreaking. My condolences and prayers to the family.

      There is a slight increase since 1998 (http://noheatstroke.org/Heatstroke_Trends.pdf, I couldn’t find data earlier than that), but far from “routine”.

      I’m sure there will be all sorts of comments from sanctimonious, perfect individuals who would never in a million years let this happen, but the reality is that, while preventable, it was a tragic accident that comes along with being human. There but for the grace of God, go I. We all make mistakes. It would be different if it was because the parents were in binge drinking or drugged up or something else, or there was a history of carelessness, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

      • ladybugavenger June 26, 2017 at 1:46 pm

        No Brian, it no different than a binge drinking, drugged up negligent person- that’s your mistake! It’s no different if your negligent sober or negligent not sober; going to a church meeting or going to a bar….It’s just plain and simple, a neglectful tragedy. Neglect neglect neglect

      • theone June 26, 2017 at 2:49 pm

        Dear Brian,

        There’s nothing sanctimonious about being responsible. These people were focused on their meeting, so I don’t see how binge drinking would be any different. I’m going to be that sanctimonious example that it never happens to, and I’ll tell you why. When my family has an event with small children in toe, we make sure at least 2 to 3 adults are watching their every move. I get it, you can’t seem to understand that toddlers will fall asleep (any place), walk to the edge of a pool, stick their finger in the spokes of a spinning bike wheel etc. Yes this is tragic and devastating beyond imagination for this family, but toddlers need responsible adults in their corner. Criminal?, no, irresponsible?, yes.
        You should be ashamed trying to excuse away this tragedy just because it wasn’t binge drinking.

      • Proud Rebel June 26, 2017 at 4:38 pm

        No Brian, this is not a tragic accident! An accident is what happens when some unforeseen occurrence happens. There is nothing unforeseen about this. This is the logical, and easily forseen result of parents that are ignoring their child. This is a case of parents that put their priorities in the wrong place.
        As a parent, your first responsibility is the safety of your child that is too young to care for themselves. If you choose to be self-centered, and ignore your child, there is no other word than neglect. A person who denies this fundamental truth is not fit to be a parent.
        Sanctimonious? Hardly. Angry? You bet! Sickened? You bet. Disgusted? You bet.
        People who make excuses for parental neglect, make me want to vomit.

  • DRT June 26, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    I just don’t see “tragic accident” here! What I do see, is a clear cut case of child neglect. And no amount of whining, crying and forgive me’s, is going to change that! When parents are so much more concerned with everything except their kids, is when this type of thing happens. There is no excuse for people to be so self centered!

    • Brian June 26, 2017 at 1:21 pm

      I’m curious, have you ever operated a vehicle within 8 hours of drinking alcohol? Or used a cell phone in any way, shape, or form while driving? Or ever not known precisely where you’re kids are at every second of every day? From your post it sounds like you’re perfect, and I’m curious what your secret is.

      • ladybugavenger June 26, 2017 at 2:56 pm

        This has nothing to do with being perfect. It has to do with consequences for actions. These actions (or I should say inactions (neglect) should have the same consequence of someone who is drunk, drugged up, or a shady past. It’s so much easier to jail the junkie/drunk than it is a church goer for the same exact act? Shame on you Brian- 25-35 people there and not one did a check to see if the vehicles are empty? After all these child deaths in hot cars, not one adult checked the vehicles to see if everyone exited? It can happen to anyone? No it can’t! It only happens to people that have kids in the car and don’t check there cars when they get out.

        There should be shame and a lot of guilt for incidents like this and then turn it around and use it to raise awareness. The parents/guardians aren’t the victim here. Many people get there kids taken away for nonsense, face jail time for their kids skipping school and then there is this: This is the ultimate child neglect.

  • KarenS June 26, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    I think it would be helpful if people realized how horrible it is to die in a hot car. If people only knew the agony that kids go through as they are trapped in a hot car, maybe there would be less tragedies like this. The news stories all seem to imply that the kids “go to sleep” and are later found dead. They suffer horribly. If they are asleep they do wake up as the heat rises. Some tear their hair out, tear at their clothes. It is not peaceful. It is painful.

    • Brian June 26, 2017 at 2:47 pm

      While I agree with your assessment, the prospect of losing a child is PLENTY of deterrent. But even then, we aren’t perfect, and no one has their guard up every second of every day.

      What would help is if all parents developed the HABIT of checking your car EVERY time you walk away from it (even when you don’t have the kids with you). When we get out of the car as a family I often get a few feet away then remember and walk back to the car just to make sure our youngest isn’t in his car seat asleep. I admit I don’t do it every time (mostly because as the Dad he isn’t with me much of the time I go somewhere, or I’ve already seen him out of the car), but this is a good habit to develop and costs nothing except a few seconds each time you leave the car.

      • Proud Rebel June 26, 2017 at 4:45 pm

        Deterrent? Why are you talking about deterrent? You should be talking about responsibility! These folks abdicated their responsibility as parents. Their child paid for that abdication with her life, and died a horrible, painful death. While they were ignoring her.

  • mmsandie June 26, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    This us horrible news, if people can,t keep track of the children Don,t have them ..it seems adults were going to church affairs that night, what was happening with 35 kids..
    People have to be more careful….this happens all to often..

  • hess_steven@msn.com June 26, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    Ok, I’m going to sound sanctimonious but I don’t care. Since the day our daughter was born we’ve never lost sight of her or not known where she is or who she’s with. How a parent or parents in this case could allow this to happen is not just tragic but negligent on the highest level. Five families, 25-35 children, and no one thought to take a head count each time they left the car? Its beyond me that something like this could happen with all the warnings and examples.

  • verybland June 26, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    So how many dogs were there on the property and how many of them were forgotten in a car?

  • KCM June 26, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    Its called responsibility, and there sure seems to be a Gigantic lack of it in today’s adult population. All you have to do is get on the road and see that. I cannot begin to comprehend the misery of being that child. Since everyone carries cell phones and most of the time our noses are buried in them, perhaps there is something the technology can do to help correct this.

  • youcandoit June 26, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    Yes this is a horrible tragedy however if this happened at a daycare they would be sued and possible charges. People please check your vehicles where’s the common sense?

    • youcandoit June 26, 2017 at 7:46 pm

      Maybe add warning statements on your event flyers MAKE SURE YOU DON’T LEAVE CHILDREN AND OR ANIMALS OR THE ELDERLY IN HOT VEHICLES

      • ladybugavenger June 26, 2017 at 8:59 pm

        It’s a shame people need to be told to not leave animals and children in cars…..that’s when I agree with Bob that some people should not have children. Period.

  • 42214 June 26, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    Fundraiser?

    • ladybugavenger June 26, 2017 at 9:32 pm

      That crossed my mind. Oh dear! Please no, not again.

  • NotSoFast June 26, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    I may be hammered for this but, I thought Brian’s sincere feelings and comments on this tragedy were in line with what we all can do personally to work on our human imperfections to be extra careful and watchful of our children.
    But reading the comments thus far, most are in attack mode on Brian? and I have a better idea!! bla bla bla.
    Reminds me of ‘Black Lives Matters’ protest marcher’s against cops and society. That’s my feeling on reading most goodie goodie comments—-OK, hammer away

    • ladybugavenger June 27, 2017 at 10:12 am

      I understand what you are saying, but Brian only has this compassion for church goers and not alcoholics/druggies. If his compassion was for all criminals and people that are on the bookings page then perhaps it would have been taken differently.
      I love Brian commenting on here. However, this is the most heinous crime and showing of child abuse and neglect. And his compassion is only for church people.

    • DRT June 28, 2017 at 10:03 am

      I have no doubt about the sincerity of Brian’s feelings. But I certainly have a totally different point of view. And I can maintain that view without feeling the need to insult either Brian, or his post.

  • anybody home June 26, 2017 at 10:46 pm

    Very sad…God must have been so busy at that
    “religious meeting” that he forgot to watch over the lambs.

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