The victim was identified as Luciana Kaye Diaz, WTVR reported on July 18. She died of cardiac arrest on July 16 on the way to the hospital. The mother’s identity was not disclosed.
The mother said she was stopping at a Food Lion store in Chesterfield. She then allegedly left the girl in the hot car while she shopped inside, the report said, citing unnamed sources.
However, the mother claimed the girl was in the store with her, according to the station.
The girl’s mother said that when they arrived at the family home in South Richmond, she left the child in the vehicle while unloading the groceries. The car’s windows were open and the door was open, she said.
Her daughter, she added, was throwing a tantrum. When she came back, the girl was unresponsive. The mother reported said it “wasn’t a long time” that the girl was left in the vehicle while she unloaded the groceries.
She then called 911. Now, the Richmond Police Department’s Major Crimes Division is investigating the case.
Currently, officials suspect no foul play in the case, the station said.
As WTVR reported, the mother also described the death as an “accident.”
SO SAD: A Virginia mother denies leaving baby in hot car, calls death ‘accident’. A tragic reminder on a hot day. ALWAYS double-check to make sure your children and pets aren’t still in your car. Look before you lock! https://t.co/9LJTqbpYjJ pic.twitter.com/EGDjka5xWu
— FOX31 Denver KDVR (@KDVR) July 18, 2019
According to USA Today, Luciana is the 21st child to die in the United States in 2019 after being left inside a hot car.
Temperatures in Richmond were in the 90s Fahrenheit on July 16, USA Today noted. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said a car can heat up 20 degrees in about 10 minutes.
“It’s important to understand that children are more vulnerable to heatstroke than adults whether you’re a parent, caregiver, or bystander. A child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult’s. When a child is left in a hot vehicle, that child’s temperature can rise in a quick and deadly manner. Heatstroke begins when the core body temperature reaches about 104 degrees. A core body temperature of about 107 degrees is lethal. In 2018, 52 children died of vehicular heatstroke,” the NHTSA warned on its website.
More Recent Deaths
A 16-month-old child died after being left inside a hot car in Iowa.
The Sioux City Police Department said that officers were called to a street in Sioux City at around 4 p.m. local time on June 30, reported WHO-TV.
There, they found an unconscious child. When they arrived, they found the girl had been left without parental supervision inside a vehicle.
The child, who was not named, was taken to Unity Point St. Luke’s Hospital and was pronounced dead, according to the report.
Weather forecasters said that it was 98 degrees Fahrenheit in Sioux City on June 30.
A 3-year-old child was found dead inside a hot car in Tennessee, according to the City of Morristown in a statement.
“Officers responded to the report of a missing child during a search of the property; officers found the child deceased on the floorboard of a minivan that was parked on the property. Investigators believe, at this time, the child entered the vehicle without anyone knowing and became trapped,” the city wrote, adding that it appears to “be a tragic accident.”
Heatkills.org, citing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that when outdoor temperatures range between 80 and 100 degrees, the interior of the car can get to 130 to 172 degrees.
“Children have died in cars with the temperature as low as 63 degrees. Basically, the car becomes a greenhouse. At 70 degrees on a sunny day, after a half hour, the temperature inside a car is 104 degrees. After an hour, it can reach 113 degrees,” stated Jan Null, adjunct professor at San Francisco State University, according to the website.