17-month-old left in hot car found dead in Pembroke Pines

PEMBROKE PINES, FLA. (WSVN) - Police are investigating the death of a toddler left inside a sweltering car for hours in a parking lot of a Pembroke Pines medical complex.

According to Pembroke Pines Police, a 17-month-old boy was found unresponsive inside the vehicle parked at South Broward Community Health Services along North University Drive, a few blocks away from Sheridan Street, Friday, just after 5 p.m.

Police said the child’s mother drove to the medical facility for work and left him unattended in the vehicle for about eight hours.

“Based on our preliminary investigation, it appears that a parent drove to that parking lot in preparation of an eight-hour work shift,” said Pembroke Pines Sgt. Adam Feiner.

Once the mother realized what had happened, she called 911.

Gabriella Fernandez, who works nearby, said she witnessed the frantic and harrowing scene.

“Everybody was screaming and crying,” she said.

Fire rescue crews performed CPR on the toddler, but they were unable to resuscitate him.

By that point, Fernandez said, she couldn’t bear to watch.

“I just saw when they took the kid to the ambulance, and I didn’t want to see anymore,” she said. “I have a baby, so I couldn’t see more.”

Even though investigators believe the mother left her 17-month-old in the car while she was at work, questions remain as to how this could happen.

“I was like, ‘Wow, how could they forget a baby in the car for so many hours,'” said Fernandez.

Pembroke Pines officials took the opportunity to remind parents and adults driving with children that temperatures inside parked cars can soar well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit within minutes, even if the vehicles are tinted or parked in a shaded area. They’re reminded to double check their vehicle for loved ones and pets after parking.

“Leaving children in a car is a yearlong hazard, but it is especially dangerous during the summer months,” said Feiner.

Officials said both of the child’s parents were offered support services from the police department. Charges have not been filed.

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