WALKER COUNTY, Ga. — An 11-month-old boy died in Georgia over the weekend when his grandparents forgot him in the car for two hours, police said.
Early indications are that the boy’s death was accidental, “but we are keeping an open mind,” Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson told CNN.
The boy’s grandparents were babysitting Saturday while the mother, who works the night shift, slept at home, he said.
According to Wilson, Kyle and Meta Hendershot took the baby, Jaxon, to church in Chickamauga along with another one of their adult daughters and another grandchild.
When they returned home, Wilson said, they realized they had forgotten him in the car.
That was around 3 p.m., when the sweltering northwest Georgia heat hit 90 degrees. In those conditions, Wilson said, “temperature in a closed vehicle can reach as high as 131 to 172 degrees in as little as 15 minutes.”
It was only when the boy’s mother awoke and asked where her son was “that the grandparents realized that the child wasn’t (inside),” Wilson said.
The mother, an emergency room nurse who lives in an apartment connected to the grandparents’ home, went outside to find her “worst fear” realized: Jaxon was still in the Toyota SUV his grandparents had driven to church.
“It appears that there were other things on their mind,” Wilson continued. “There was a lack of communication within the three adults. They assumed that one of the others had brought in the child and laid him down. They didn’t communicate who would get the child.”
Despite attempts by the mother and then first responders to revive the child with CPR, he was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Police will not issue any more updates until the autopsy is complete, Wilson said, adding that investigators suspect the results will show the boy died of heatstroke.
No charges have been filed, but the death is being investigated by the Walker County Sheriff’s Office, the sheriff said.
The infant was the 19th child to die in the United States in 2015 because of being left inside a hot car, according to the Department of Meteorology & Climate Science at San Jose State University in California.
Widespread attention was brought to the issue in 2014 after a Georgia father spent an entire day at the office while his nearly 2-year-old son was still strapped inside his car seat. Justin Ross Harris has pleaded not guilty to felony murder charges in the death of 22-month-old Cooper Harris.