Antonio Almaraz, 31, has been charged with abandoning a child, child endangerment and causing serious bodily injury to a child after his baby was found unresponsive inside his vehicle. The two-month-old was rushed to a San Antonio-area hospital and remains in critical condition.
The hospital where the baby is being treated notified police in Bexar County about the incident.
When police questioned Almaraz about what happened, he gave conflicting statements, “however, investigators were able to determine the events that had actually taken place,” the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office told local outlet KSAT.
Police learned that Almaraz had driven his baby to a routine doctor’s appointment at around 9 a.m. before returning home around 10 a.m. That’s when investigators believe Almaraz forgot his baby in the car and went inside.
The two-month-old was discovered unresponsive just after 1 p.m. Almaraz was arrested shortly after.
Almaraz’s bond was set at US$80,000 and he was issued an order of dismissal from his employment with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office.
Almaraz was hired about seven months ago on Feb. 20 and was still in his probationary period at the sheriff’s office. He cannot appeal his dismissal and cannot be rehired regardless of whether he is found guilty of the charges, KSAT reported.
“Given the amount of awareness in the community regarding leaving children unattended in vehicles, there is absolutely no valid excuse for this to have occurred,” Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said in a statement. “My family and I are praying for the best possible outcome for this precious baby.”
According to the National Weather Service, the temperature in San Antonio between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Monday started at 28 C, then shot up to 33 C. However, temperatures experienced inside cars left out on hot days can rise far above outdoor temperatures.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that about 40 children die from heat-stroke in the U.S. each year from being trapped inside cars.
“That’s about one child every 10 days killed in a hot car,” the agency writes.
In about half of these cases, the child was forgotten inside a car by a caregiver. The agency recommends that parents get in the habit of always checking the back seat of their car before locking the doors.
According to a first-of-its-kind report by the Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto, researchers found that there were six known cases of children who died in parked hot cars in Canada between 2013 and 2019. On average, that’s one death per year.
“On a sunny day, the interior temperature of a vehicle can rise to dangerous levels within a short period of time. For example, an outside temperature of 22.2 C can result in an interior temperature above 40 C in just an hour,” says Dr. Joelene Huber, principal investigator of the study and assistant professor of pediatrics at U of T.
“These temperatures are extremely dangerous and can lead to hyperthermia — a condition where the body temperature is elevated beyond normal. Young children are particularly susceptible to this,” Huber said, adding that children’s bodies heat up quicker.