It was supposed to be a field trip to the park — but one little boy didn’t make it home.
A 3-year-old boy was left behind, police say, locked inside a daycare van for hours Thursday afternoon in northwest Houston, where the high temperature outside reached 97 degrees.
When deputies arrived after 6:30 p.m., they measured the temperature inside the van at 113 degrees, according to a news release from Harris County Precinct 1 Constable Alan Rosen. But at that point, the toddler had been trapped inside for at least three and a half hours.
Police questioned two workers from Discovering Me Academy as the boy was taken to Methodist Willowbrook Hospital — the driver of the bus and a chaperone — both of whom had some level of responsibility for accounting for the 28 children in that van, Rosen said.
The child’s name was on the workers’ list of children who had been accounted for during and after the field trip, KPRC reported. Rosen told the station, though, that the child must have fallen asleep on the bus on the ride back from the field trip.
“It’s just tragic,” Rosen said in the release.
The bus arrived back at the daycare facility on Antoine Drive between 2:30 and 3 p.m., but no one realized the 3-year-old had not gotten off the bus with the group until his father came to pick him up between 6:30 and 7 p.m., according to KRIV. The van offered no ventilation while locked.
“The next thing I know, a few hours later the dad and the owner came out and was crying,” Kenneth Brooks, an eyewitness, told KTRK. “When EMS had him, he was just limp, you know. Right there, I knew the kid was gone. It’s a sad day.”
The boy was pronounced dead at the hospital.
No criminal charges had been filed as of Friday morning, but Houston Police Department investigators, who took over the investigation into the boy’s death, is still looking into the possibility, KPRC reported. The victim has not been named by authorities.
Discovering Me Academy was cited for several violations involving one of its vans in 2015, according to state records. One violation involved a van that was not outfitted with an electronic child safety alarm, which is used to notify the van’s driver if a child has been left in the vehicle.
Rosen encouraged parents to place a wallet, purse or cell phone in the backseat with any child strapped in a car seat, to help remember both are inside once you reach your destination.
“Do something that always reminds you that you have a loving package in the backseat of that car,” Rosen said in the release.
According to the advocacy group Kidsandcars.org, the 3-year-old’s death was the 27th hot-car death of 2018 in the U.S. Texas has had more pediatric hot car deaths than any other state, with 123 since 1991, the group says.