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Coroner IDs toddler left in hot car in Las Vegas as Utah boy

Updated July 17, 2017 - 12:33 am

The Clark County coroner has identified the 3-year-old boy who died Saturday in Las Vegas after he was left in a parked car for at least an hour during triple-digit heat.

He was Chase Lee of Filmore, Utah, the coroner’s office said Sunday. The boy’s official cause of death will be released later, pending a toxicology report.

The boy was found in a four-door passenger sedan by the Grandview time-share property at 9940 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Carlos Hank said Saturday night. The sedan’s windows were up, and the boy was in a car seat.

Lt. Roger Price of Metro’s special victims unit said Saturday that drugs and alcohol do not appear to be a factor in the incident and that an investigation continues.

“Unfortunately, anytime this happens it’s going to be a tragedy,” Price said. “Anytime you lose a child, it’s a tragic accident. Nobody intends for it to happen. It doesn’t mean there wasn’t negligence involved with it. But it’s just something none of us want to see.”

Just before 5 p.m. Saturday, police responded to reports of an injured child by the Grandview, Hank said Saturday night. Officers determined the boy was suffering from heat-related injuries after being left in a car, Hank said.

Police said Saturday that a large family was visiting from out of town and about a dozen children were with the group. The family included relatives from different parts of the country.

The boy went unaccounted for, Price said.

“Unfortunately, by the time (the parents) figured out what had happened, too much time had already elapsed,” he said.

The boy was taken to St. Rose Dominican Hospital, Siena campus, where he was pronounced dead. Price called the boy’s death “a tragic accident.”

On Sunday morning, yellow police tape was still knotted around a fence and light poles in the Grandview’s parking lot, but there were no memorials or other signs of what had happened.

Janette Fennell, president and founder of Kids and Cars, an advocacy group working to protect children in and around motor vehicles, said Sunday that if the boy’s cause of death is vehicular heatstroke, it would be the 16th such child death in Nevada since 1996.

On its website, the National Safety Council, an Itasca, Illinois-based nonprofit group working to eliminate preventable deaths, said the temperature inside a vehicle can rise by nearly 20 degrees in 10 minutes and that at 107 degrees, a human body’s cells suffer damage and internal organs begin to shut down.

Price said that with Saturday’s high temperature reaching 114 degrees, the car’s inside temperature could have reached as high as 170 degrees.

In an article in the journal Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics said toddlers and infants are more susceptible to heat illness than adults partly because they seem to have comparatively less effective thermoregulation.

The website noheatstroke.org reported Sunday that 21 children have died from vehicular heatstroke in 2017. Chase Lee’s death was one of two hot car child deaths the site listed for Saturday. It said 23-month-old Khayden Saint Sauver died in Delray Beach, Florida, where the temperature reached 84 degrees.

Hold on to Dear Life, a campaign of Intermountain Healthcare’s Primary Children’s Hospital, said 39 children died from vehicular heatstroke nationally in 2016, up from 31 in 2014 and 24 in 2015.

On average, the National Safety Council said, 37 children die nationwide in hot cars annually. Incidents peak between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the agency said, when two to three children die weekly nationwide.

The council cited data by Jan Null, of San Jose State University’s Department of Meteorology and Climate Science, that found that 87 percent of children who died in hot cars nationally were 3 or younger; 54 percent are forgotten in a vehicle; and 17 percent were intentionally left in a vehicle by an adult. Null is the researcher behind noheatstroke.org,

Fennell, a former Las Vegan, said, “We are devastated to learn about another innocent child dying in a hot car.”

Contact Matthew Crowley at mcrowley@reviewjournal.com. Follow @copyjockey on Twitter. Las Vegas Review-Journal writers Blake Apgar and Dana Rutkin contributed to this report.

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