Boy left in vehicle dies


A 4-year-old boy was found dead outside his family's home Monday morning after being left in a vehicle for 17 hours, Las Vegas police said.

The boy was pronounced dead about 8:30 a.m. after one of his siblings found him in the family's sport-utility vehicle outside the house at 4935 E. Cleveland Ave., near Sahara Avenue and Nellis Boulevard, police said.

Investigators determined the child's parents had forgotten the boy in their sport-utility vehicle after returning home from a family outing Sunday afternoon, said Lt. Ray Steiber, who oversees the Abuse and Neglect Detail.

Sunday's temperature peaked at 90 degrees about 6 p.m. at McCarran International Airport. At that heat, temperatures inside a vehicle can top 130 degrees within an hour, according to a San Francisco State University study.

Investigators think heat was a factor in the child's death but were waiting for more information from the coroner's office before determining whether it killed the boy, Steiber said. The death was the first in Las Vegas this year involving a child in a car, he said.

The boy was not strapped in a car seat, he said.

The two-story, 3,412-square-foot home is owned by Stan and Colleen Rimer, who bought it in 1991.

A man at the scene who identified himself as a member of the Rimers' Mormon church said they had seven children, all boys, six of whom lived in the house. The oldest was serving a Mormon mission in Canada, the man said.

The 4-year-old boy was mentally disabled, he said.

Clark County's Department of Family Services removed all minor children from the home and placed them in the Child Haven shelter, spokeswoman Christine Skorupski said.

Child Protective Services workers had received previous reports about the family, but Skorupski said she could not release details.

The church member said four children were taken to Child Haven in part because of the home's uncleanliness and a group of church members planned to clean the house once police left the scene.

Steiber said the children were removed because of concerns about their environment.

The remaining son who lived in the house was an adult and allowed to return to the home, the church member said.

"It's not a family you could see this happen to," the man said. "They're always together."

Police will await information from the coroner's office before completing their investigation and consulting prosecutors on potential charges, Steiber said.

In previous cases in which children died in hot cars, Clark County prosecutors have not pressed charges when caregivers did not intentionally leave their children in the vehicle.

According to the San Francisco State University study, 51 percent of child deaths in hot cars between 1998 and 2007 occurred after a caregiver forgot the child.

Nevada had nine such fatalities during the study period, which gave it the highest per-capita rate in the nation.

"It's never OK to leave your child unattended ... especially in a vehicle," Steiber said.

Five children have died in the United States from heat in cars this year, not including Monday's death. Last year 35 U.S. children died under the same circumstances, according to the study.

Contact reporter Brian Haynes at bhaynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0281.

 

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