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Foster parents could be charged in toddler's hot car death

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on Fri, 08/10/2012 - 04:11
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charges still are pending against a Jackson County couple after a toddler they were fostering was found dead in their vehicle.

James and Penny Hayfer were in the process of adopting the 3-year-old girl, Jackson County Chief Deputy Tony Boggs said.

The family was on their way back from church to their Wilding Road home in Silverton and the girl had fallen asleep in a car seat. Once home, the adults and children got out of the car and went inside.

"It kind of dawned on them later that she wasn't in the house," Boggs said.

He described it as a situation where one person thought the other person had gotten the girl out of the vehicle and vice versa.

The chief deputy said several family members had taken naps before realizing the child wasn't in the house.

The girl was found still in her car seat about 3 p.m. She was unresponsive. Boggs estimated she had been in the vehicle unattended for about two hours.

Family members called for help. Jackson deputies and Silverton firefighters responded with paramedics, but it was too late. The girl was pronounced dead at the scene.

Temperatures Sunday in Parkersburg were 87 degrees at 3:50 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures in the Ravenswood-Silverton area would have been in the mid to high 80s, meteorologists said.

Jan Null, an adjunct professor of meteorology at San Francisco State University, tracks incidents of children being injured or killed after being left in hot vehicles.

The Jackson County incident was the 14th of its kind this year in the United States. The last incident in West Virginia occurred in May 2009 near Buckhannon where a 3-year-old boy died.

"With an outside air temperature in the upper 80s, the inside air temperature of the car could have been on the order of 125 to 130 degrees," Null said. "Objects or a person inside the car in direct sunlight would have been significantly hotter."

Temperatures of 107 degrees or more could be lethal for an infant or child because their bodies cannot yet regulate body temperature, Null said. When a person's body temperature reaches 104 degrees, the body goes into heat stroke.

The person loses consciousness but also stops sweating, Null said. Sweating is how the body cools itself. The first responder would find the person warm to the touch but with dry skin.

"When the body reaches 107 degrees the cells in the organs begin to die and the organs begin to shut down," Null said. "It's a terrible and horrific way to die."

It doesn't necessarily have to be a hot day for this to happen. He said the interior of a vehicle on a 70-degree day could reach 125 degrees in two hours.

Investigators were waiting to hear results of the girl's autopsy.

He said Child Protective Services was made aware of the situation. He did not know Monday afternoon if the other children in the home would be removed.

by Ashley B. Craig
Daily Mail staff
dailymail.com

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Charges are expected to be filed against the foster parents of a 3-year-old girl who was found dead in a car in Jackson County.

Deputies say "Jasmine" was left in the car for nearly three hours before she was found.

The family had just gotten back from church and had several children and adults in a SUV. Investigators say everyone got out the vehicle and went inside the house to take naps.

Jackson County Deputies estimate the little girl was inside the hot vehicle for about three hours before her family realized she was missing about 3:30 p.m. Sunday. She died in the driveway.

"Through some sort of confusion about which parent may have done what the 3-year-old was left in the child seat in the third row seat in an SUV," Chief Deputy Tony Boggs - Jackson County Sheriff's Department said. "It's the worst case of dealing with a child death especially one that didn't have to happen."

The family told detectives Jasmine fell asleep on the way home from church and they didn't realize she was left in the car.

In an interview with WSAZ.com, the victim's foster uncle says the family is devastated about what's happened.

"We love the heck out of them and still love the heck out of them even though this happened," David Hafer, the victim's foster uncle said. "They always called me uncle Dave and I always liked that...I'd play with them all the time and they were as happy as all get out I thought."

"Just the middle of the summer and the heat that we've had -- it takes very little time for something of this nature to occur," Chief Deputy Boggs said. "Uh you know, it gives you goose bumps you can't imagine."

Deputies say they expect to file child neglect charges against the child's foster parents this week.

Investigators tell WSAZ.com the couple also had custody of an older child, but CPS has now taken custody of him, according to deputies.

"They were just in our family just the same as any of the rest of our kids were and we love them to pieces and we hate that this happened -- I'm telling you because those kids are just like our family and we really do miss them," Hafer said. "They were just all happy to get out to church and...I just don't know it's weird...I don't like it a bit but I don't know."

Jasmine's foster parent is blaming himself for taking the family to church, according to Hafer.

"He says if maybe he hadn't have gone to church maybe this wouldn't have happened. And I said no..., going to church didn't make it happen or what not," Hafer said. "God's not going to take care of things like this -- that's the devil doing that."

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 7/22/12 10:55 p.m.
JACKSON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- New details have emerged after a small child died after being left in a vehicle in the Silverton area of Jackson County.

WSAZ.com has learned the family had just gotten back from church and had several children and adults in a SUV.

Investigators say everyone got out the vehicle except for a 3-year-old girl who was left in the vehicle.

Jackson County Deputies estimate the little girl was inside the hot vehicle for about three hours before her family realized she was missing. She died in the driveway.

The incident is under investigation, but is still being treated as an accident as of Sunday night.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



ORIGINAL STORY
JACKSON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A small child has died after being left in a car.

Emergency crews at the scene tell WSAZ.com it happened in the Silverton area of Jackson County.

Emergency crews say it appears to be accidential. The Jackson County Sheriff's Department has been called to the scene to investigate.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

wsaz.com