A 22-month-old was found dead after being left in a steaming SUV for more than seven hours Wednesday in Cobb County. And police have yet to determine whether to charge the distraught dad who tried frantically to revive the dead child on the ground of a busy Cobb County shopping center.
So far, police have not released the name or gender of the child and they have not identified the dad. And investigators said they are still trying to determine what caused this tragedy.
Still, what police said they know so far was that the dad was supposed to drop off the child at daycare, but instead showed up at his office, locked his Hyundai Tucson and left the child in the car seat.
That was around 9 a.m., Cobb County police spokesman Sgt. Dana Pierce said. Shortly after 4 p.m., the dad returned to his vehicle in the Cumberland Mall area and had drove for a couple of miles before reportedly realizing that the child had been left in the back seat in 90-degree weather.
It’s unclear how the dad was able to overlook the child and police said they did not know what made him realize the child was still in the back seat.
The man then pulled off an access road to the Akers Mill Square shopping center on Akers Mill Road, took the child out of the SUV and attempted treatment while on the phone with 911. , police said A crowd gathered and some attempted to help treat the child, Pierce said.
One witness, Dale Hamilton, said he initially thought the child was choking, but quickly learned otherwise, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“He pulled him out, laid him on the ground, and tried to resuscitate him,” Hamilton said.
“He was lifeless, he was in the same position as if he were sitting in the car seat,” Hamilton said. “It’s something that I’ll remember for a long time.”
Many calls were made to 911 and officers who were already patrolling the area beacause of reports of frequent break-ins, noticed the crowd and went to investigate, he said.
The officers looked at the child and realized the toddler had been dead for quite some time, Pierce said. The distraught dad, became combative with police, and had to be handcuffed, police said.
“What have I done? What have I done?” witnesses heard the man screaming, according to media reports. “I’ve killed our child.”
The man was taken to police headquarters for questioning and the body of the child turned over to the Cobb County Medical Examiner’s Office to determine the cause and manner of death, Pierce said.
Wednesday’s death is the second in two days involving children left in cars, according to the AJC. A 9-month-old Florida girl died after being left in her father’s pickup truck Tuesday, the paper reported.
The child in Cobb County is believed to be the 14th to die from heatstroke inside a vehicle this year in the United States, according to KidsAndCars.org, which tracks fatalities involving children and vehicles, the AJC reported. Last year, 43 children died after being left in vehicles, according to the Department of Earth and Climate Sciences at San Francisco State University.
“We have had a few incidents over the years and nothing can make the memory go away,” said Pierce who recalled incidents where children were accidentally ran over and killed by a school bus, an ice cream truck and even one incident where a child was decapitated after the dad ran a stop sign and his vehicle struck by a school bus. But he said he has not seen a case where a child died after being left in a vehicle for so long.
“It does have a profound effect on you as a parent and as an officer,” Pierce said. “It tugs at your heart.”