18-month-old Fort Worth boy dies in neighbor's car

FORT WORTH -- An 18-month-old boy who apparently slipped out of the house as his parents slept Thursday was found inside a neighbor's car and pronounced dead a short time later, apparently from heat exposure, police said.

An officer found the child inside the Nissan Altima about 1 p.m. after spotting a step stool pushed up against the passenger side.

The boy was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The officer had been dispatched to the residence in the 2900 block of McKinley Avenue in north Fort Worth after the parents awoke to find the boy gone, said Sgt. Chad Mahaffey, a police spokesman.

The parents work night shifts, and the boy's grandmother typically watched him in the morning while the parents slept, Mahaffey said. The grandmother apparently left the residence around noon to visit the nearby home of another relative.

The child was still asleep when she left, Mahaffey said.

"Shortly thereafter, the mom woke up and could not find the 18-month-old," Mahaffey said. "The mom saw the front door was closed but not locked, which is unusual, and called police."

After the officer spotted the step stool, she "saw what appeared to be an infant inside," Mahaffey said. "The car doors were locked. The officer broke out the window immediately and removed the infant."

The temperature was 91.4 degrees at 1 p.m. at Meacham Airport, also in north Fort Worth, according to the National Weather Service.

On Thursday afternoon, yellow crime scene tape stretched from the boy's home to the neighbor's residence.

The turquoise step stool still sat next to the car.

Mahaffey said the crimes against children unit is investigating the death.

"At this point, there's nothing to indicate foul play," Mahaffey said. "However, investigators will review the entire timeline of the day's events as well as the familial history, and they'll determine the physical capabilities of this particular 18-month-old."

Marissa Gonzales, a spokeswoman for Child Protective Services, said the family had no history with the state agency. She said a sibling of the boy was voluntarily placed with a relative while CPS continues to investigate.

DEANNA BOYD, 817-390-7655