POMONA (CBSLA.com/AP) — Authorities in Pomona say a 3-year-old girl died from heat exposure Sunday after being found in a sweltering car after a family outing.
Police Lt. Eddie Vasquez says the girl's parents and two older children all believed she exited the vehicle with everyone else Sunday afternoon.
The family had been running errands on Father's Day and when they got home decided to take a nap. When the eldest child woke up he realized Kiara was missing. He found her unconscious and still buckled inside the car.
"The child who called indicated that his sister was not breathing and then hung up. Officers arrived and found the mother trying to resuscitate their young child," Sgt. Marcus Perez said.
The girl never regained consciousness and later died at a hospital.
Chuck Woods lives next to the family and choked back tears while discussing the incident. He identified the girl as Kiara Li.
Vasquez says investigators do not suspect foul play and initial findings show the death was a tragic accident. Nonetheless, they are referring the case to the District Attorney's Office in case they choose to file charges.
Perez said, "I know we get busy in our life. This particular family - violin lessons, Boy Scouts, Brownies, church functions - they were very active."
City News Service reports that an autopsy is planned.
Temperatures in Pomona topped 90 degrees on Sunday.
The nonprofit group KidsAndCars.org says cars act like greenhouses during extreme heat. Within the first 10 minutes, the temperature can spike 20 degrees and can rise another 10 degrees every 10 minutes. The group says more than 700 children have died in the last 20 years from being left in hot cars. Investigators believe most cases, like this one, are tragic accidents.
Officials offer the following advice to avoid leaving a child in the car:
- Put belongings on the backseat floor. When you retrieve it you'll see your child.
- Never assume someone has taken the child out of the car.
- Ask your day care to call you if your child is not dropped off as an extra precaution.
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