Officials say 2-year-old child was left in van for at least 6 hours

ST. GEORGE — A 2-year-old boy who died from suspected vehicular heatstroke in Washington County Saturday had been left in a family van for at least six hours as temperatures climbed to 105 degrees.

The toddler and his family had been visiting from Preston, Idaho, as part of a family reunion, Washington County Sheriff’s Lt. David Crouse said. More than five families and between 25-35 children had been temporarily staying at a residence in Winchester Hills for the reunion.

Using multiple vehicles, the families traveled to St. George Saturday morning for an activity before returning to the Winchester Hills residence at approximately 10:30 a.m., officials said.

“Based on the initial stages of this investigation, you have multiple family members there with multiple kids, sharing cousins, and the common theme was that, you know, everybody had a little of everybody else’s kids in the vehicle,” Crouse said.

The 2-year-old boy and several other children were passengers of a family-owned, coach-style van that was driven by a family member who was not the 2-year-old boy’s parents, Crouse said, adding that the child had not been placed in a car seat or child restraint device.

It is suspected that the 2-year-old child had fallen asleep during the return trip and did not exit the vehicle with the other children and adults, Crouse said, noting that this was not known to the adults as they prepared to go back to St. George to attend a “religious meeting” for adults.

The children remained in the care of several teenage children as well as an adult neighbor while the adults attended their meeting.

“Due to the (number) of children that were still going to be at the residence there, you know, the adults on scene felt like it was important enough to actually seek out additional child care responsibility,” Crouse said, “so, in addition to the older-teenage children that were in the home, another adult neighbor was asked to come over and help supervise the children.”

As the adult family members returned to the residence Saturday evening, they noticed the 2-year-old boy was not present, and they began searching the residence and surrounding areas. The boy was then discovered in the van by the father.

Law enforcement and emergency personnel were dispatched to the scene at approximately 6:34 p.m. Saturday. When first responders arrived on scene, they determined the child was deceased.

“At the time of the child’s discovery,” Crouse said, “it appears he had been in the vehicle for at least six hours based on the timeline established during interviews with witnesses and family members.”

While the incident appears to have been a “tragic accident,” the Sheriff’s Office said, the investigation is ongoing and will be screened by the Washington County Attorney’s Office for potential criminal liability as part of standard protocol.

Email: kscott@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

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

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21 Comments

  • 42214 June 26, 2017 at 11:24 pm

    Tragic story. Nobody intended for an innocent child to die but someone was negligent in “overlooking” the whereabouts of such a young child for 6 hours in these weather conditions. It’s not a tragic accident, it’s involuntary manslaghter as defined by Black’s Law Dictionary and other accepted standards. Probably can’t identify the responsible party but make no mistake, this was not an accident, it was negligence, period.

  • comments June 26, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    pretty terrible

  • Mean Momma June 27, 2017 at 3:02 am

    SIX FREAKING HOURS?!?!?! Are you kidding me?! No one noticed for SIX HOURS that this child was missing?!?! Someone needs to be charged, this child needs some type of justice served. Also, doesn’t a two year old properly restrained in a car seat usually need help getting out of that car seat? So was this child never properly restrained in the car? I know tragic accidents happen and people make mistakes, but this is a pretty freaking huge mistake! I can’t even fathom how this happened for SIX HOURS!

  • KarenS June 27, 2017 at 6:47 am

    The discovery that the toddler had been in the van for at least 6 hours is shocking beyond belief. The parents of the child abdicated their responsibility from the time they allowed their child to be driven in a van without child restraints. It only escalated from there with tragic results.

  • Utahguns June 27, 2017 at 6:54 am

    There’s something pretty sick when you can’t inventory your own children.
    “More than five families and between 25-35 children had been temporarily staying at a residence in Winchester Hills for the reunion.” So who in the hell is in charge here?
    My father used to say, “There’s no such thing as an accident”.
    This statement boils it all down to someone “didn’t pay attention”, someone didn’t do their job correctly, or it’s plain stupidity.”

    More investigation into this tradegy will hopefully hold one or two (or several adults) liable for this child’s death.

  • hiker75 June 27, 2017 at 7:55 am

    This is becoming way too common. It is criminal!

  • Travis June 27, 2017 at 8:05 am

    How in the world do you, Mom and Dad, lose track of your child for 6 hours?

  • ladybugavenger June 27, 2017 at 10:29 am

    “tragic accident” the Sherriff office says. Yep, that’s the term that will get no charges filed. But If there was alcohol involved they would have been arrested right away. It’s the same act and different results. Biased much?

    • Utahguns June 27, 2017 at 11:08 am

      LB, you can rest assured there was no alcohol involved if there’s any connection to Hilldale and Colorado City.
      “five families and between 25-35 children had been temporarily staying at a residence in Winchester Hills”…..”the adults were preparing for a religious meeting” >>>From KSL news.

      • Mean Momma June 27, 2017 at 2:03 pm

        Ummm that is a false statement. I used to work for a Colorado City Plig and they loved to drink. Many of them actually do and I’ve seen several in the arrests for driving under the influence, public intoxication, underage drinking, etc. depends on the sect I guess.

        • Utahguns June 27, 2017 at 6:32 pm

          OK, thank you. I stand corrected. I assumed (sic..the word ass u me) that mormons, whether openly or privately devout, don’t imbibe. Time for a Corona…

  • ladybugavenger June 27, 2017 at 10:37 am

    Who “accidentally” leaves a child in a car? Who “accidentally” leaves a child in a car for 6 hours?

    People to preoccupied with themselves and people that don’t watch their kids- that’s who.

    We have all seen how people don’t watch their kids in st george, whether it be in the parking lot, in the stores, at the rec center etc.

    This won’t be the last child left in car and dies in st George area.

    No charges and fundraisers are not healthy. No one says lifetime in prison for the parents, I don’t think, but charges being filed and court trial would show that, hey people! Wake up!

  • Mike Carter June 27, 2017 at 10:44 am

    This story makes me sick, a bunch of adults don’t notice a 2 year old is missing for 6 hours while he’s baking to death. No one thought that a 2 year old needs to be changed, fed, have a nap, etc? Everyone there should be charged especially these so called “parents”. Child services needs to be involved with their other children as well. I’m terrified for their safety if these people lose a child like you are I would the TV remote.

    We all know how this story ends in good ol Utah, “tragic accident” or “they’re suffering enough”. The truth is they are lds and above prosecution just like the lady in Hurricane that baked her child while she was taking a nap.

    Everywhere else in the country when this happens the responsible party is charged and prosecuted. Not in Utah folks.

  • ladybugavenger June 27, 2017 at 10:46 am

    The Sherriffs and DA office have set the precedence from the last case. All you have to do is say “church” and your off without charges and fundraiser. Hopefully, they can turn this precedence around.

    Alcohol and drugs or a shady past do not cause people to leave children in hot cars to die. But just because those are not factors does not mean people are good. It does not mean that they are not neglectful. It does not mean that there should be no charges of neglect, manslaughter? A child died here, who is the one that was really suffering from neglect? the child. Remember that.

  • Timeroadbike June 27, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    Listen to all you perfect parents.

    • ladybugavenger June 27, 2017 at 4:26 pm

      It has nothing to do with being perfect. Us imperfect parents are shown no mercy when we make a mistake. The judge in traffic court does not say, you have suffered enough there is no fine for you. The judge in that criminal case or warrant that somebody has does not say, you are broke with kids, fine dismissed.

      Just asking for fairness. Not for LDS favoritism

    • ladybugavenger June 27, 2017 at 4:30 pm

      All the people need is 12 of you on their jury and no one would ever be convicted of anything 🙂

    • 42214 June 27, 2017 at 9:36 pm

      We’re not perfect parents. We just don’t kill our kids.

  • yikes June 27, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    25-35 children? can’t anyone count their kids? Ohhhhhh, so that’s what’s meant by “suffer the little children”.

  • Keith June 27, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    “SIX HOURS” That is no accident ! That is neglect pure and simple. I have myself noticed a child missing after only 15 minutes. (She was in the bedroom taking a nap) But it still freaked us out. The point being. We noticed her missing right away. How can you not notice a child missing for 6 hr’s? What the heck is so important that your child should die, a horrific death like that. And no one wants to take the blame?They are all to blame! THIS WAS NO ACCIDENT AS TRAGIC AS IT MAY BE! Start holding parents responsible for their actions, that result in the death of their child!

  • Not_So_Much June 28, 2017 at 8:04 am

    Accident my ass. This is child negligence and most likely abuse. The parents need to be charged. Yes it IS tragic — for the now deceased two year old.

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