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.
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