Mom says baby was in grocery store, not hot car, before dying

Mom says baby was in grocery store, not hot car, before dying
Police are investigating after a 10-month-old baby died Tuesday in Richmond. (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Richmond mom of a 10-month-old girl who died Tuesday says her baby was in the grocery store with her, not in a hot car.

Police were called just before 2 p.m. to the 4600 block of Britannia Road for the report of a child needing assistance.

A source said the child was left in the car in the Southside while an adult went grocery shopping.

However, the mom said the baby, who she identified Wednesday as Luciana, was with her in the grocery store on Iron Bridge Road.

Luciana’s mother said her daughter was making gurgling sounds inside the store, but didn’t think anything of it because she said that happens every now and then.

On the drive home the mother said Luciana was “throwing a fit” in the backseat.

When she got to the house, the mother left the car door open to where Luciana was and took a couple of bags inside to drop off because she couldn’t carry the baby and bags at the same time.

When she brought Luciana inside she noticed her daughter was not acting normal; not moving which is when she said she called 911.

Police said the baby was inside the home when they were called to the scene.

Richmond police said, “officers arrived and found a female child under one years of age who was suffering from possible heat-related distress.”

The child was taken to the hospital where she later died. Sources said the child died of cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital.

“I’m going to miss her so much,” said the mom Wednesday, who has three other children.

The mother described Luciana as a loving, snugly little girl.

When asked how the mother was holding up, she responded, “I’m not, but I have to for my baby girl.”

"She went to the store and left the kid in the car,” neighbor Angelica Juarez said.

Juarez lives across the street from the home where she noticed a lot of activity Tuesday afternoon.

"They had police and ambulance at the house for about 2-3 hours,” she added.

Juarez said her neighbor had just returned from the store.

"Came back, she was holding the baby,” she said. “She brought the baby to the house, the ambulance came, the baby was already dead.”

"This is the 21st child that has died this year in a hot car,” said Amber Rollins of KidsAndCars.org of the initial report of the baby’s death.

“Last year we had 52 fatalities nationwide and it was the worst year in history for child hot car deaths,” she added. “We have been working to raise awareness and educate on this tragic topic for 20 years now and nothing is changing.”

Now the group is working with lawmakers across the nation.

“It’s a federal bill that would require technology in vehicles that would sense the presence of a child and prevent these horrible things from happening," Rollins said. "Who out there doesn’t want to prevent children from dying in hot cars?”

With hot temperatures sticking with us, this tragedy serves as a reminder for everyone.

"It’s very sad because the girl was only 10 months old and it looks like they just left her in the car,” Juarez said.

Richmond Ambulance Authority also responded to the scene Tuesday afternoon. While they weren’t able to release details on the case, first responders are concerned about hot-car deaths, especially with children.

"Kids are a lot more susceptible for a lot of problems with heat-related type of emergencies," said Captain Wesley Wampler.

Richmond Ambulance Authority urges people and parents to be aware of all surroundings and children during the hot summer months.

“Some studies have said even an outside temperature in the mid-70s will get up to over 110 very, very quickly,” Wampler said.

Wampler placed a thermometer in a light-colored car, with light interior Wednesday afternoon to demonstrate how quickly the temperature rises.

“I think [it’s risen] 15 degrees over the ambient temperature in 20 minutes,” he said.

That temperature continued to rise the entire time NBC12 was there, reaching more than 112 degrees.

“It’s important that kids can’t stay in the car for any amount of time," Wampler said.

Statistics from the NoHeatStroke.org show 54% of child hot-car deaths are a result of the caregiver forgetting about the child; 26.3% are from children gaining access to the cars on their own; 18.9% are from knowingly being left by a caregiver; 0.9% are unknown.

Another suggestion from experts is to ask your childcare provider to call you immediately if your child doesn’t show up when he or she is scheduled to. That simple phone call can be all it takes to realize a child is in a hot car, allowing you to quickly get them out.

“While foul play is not immediately suspected, detectives ask anyone with information to call Detective J. Hewitt at (804) 646-6870,” a release said about Tuesday’s death.

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