When a Texas dad went to pick up his son at day care around 6:30 p.m. yesterday, he was thrown into a parent's absolute worst nightmare. Employees at the Houston-based Discovering Me Academy looked inside the day care before realizing the 3-year-old boy was trapped inside a bus parked in the back parking lot.
When they reached the bus, they found the boy unresponsive. Paramedics tried to resuscitate him as they rushed him to Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital, but it was too late. The toddler was pronounced dead at the hospital.
According to Harris County Precinct 1 Constable's Office, the boy was one of 28 students who were taken by bus to a park for a field trip earlier in the day. They returned to the day care, a 12-minute drive from the park, between 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., which means the child was trapped in the bus for at least 3.5 hours before he was found.
The child was trapped in the bus for at least 3.5 hours before he was found.
Deputies think the toddler might have fallen asleep during the drive back from the park. They measured the temperature inside the bus to be a dangerous 113ºF at the time. Children’s bodies heat up much faster than adults' bodies, and once the core body temperature reaches 104 degrees, their internal organs begin to shut down.
Alarmingly, a list of students compiled upon return to the day care showed that the child had been marked as accounted for.
"We have policies in place, the right policies, but we cannot force people to follow them," an employee of the day care who spoke on condition of anonymity told the Houston Chronicle.
Deputies are interviewing the driver of the bus and the chaperone in their search for answers about this tragedy. They could face criminal charges, but that is up to the investigations by the Houston Police Department and the Harris County District Attorney's Office.
"Constable [Alan] Rosen urges you to consider this case a tragic reminder of the potential danger inherent with summer weather in the Houston area and implores parents and caregivers to remember to take a look around their vehicle before leaving it. He suggests placing your wallet, purse or cell phone near the child so you don’t forget either inside once you reach your destination," the Constable's Office wrote in its Facebook statement.
According to NoHeatStroke.org, there have been 26 children who have died from vehicular heatstroke so far in 2018.