Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding calls Tuesday’s death of 3-year-old Oliver Dill a horrible mistake. He was found dead in a hot car on the campus of the University of Southern Indiana.
It only takes minutes for a car to reach triple digits. Investigators say Dill was left there for hours.
“This seems to be a tragic incident because of somebody who was either distracted or just may not have been thinking,” Wedding said. “How or what caused him to forget the child is in the back of the car, we can’t explain that.”
The boy’s father told detectives he forgot his son was in the back seat after going to work at the school. Doctors say it is easier to forget than you might imagine.
Every year in America, nearly 40 kids die in a hot car. An average of about 1 every 9 days. It is almost always an accident.
According to kidsandcars.org, temperatures in a hot car can reach upwards of 125 degrees within minutes.
Dr. Gina Huhnke at Deaconess Hospital says most parents would like to think this would never happen to them, but you might want to think again.
“That’s the biggest mistake, is thinking it can’t happen to you,” she said. “It’s quite accidental.”
Sheriff’s Office detectives investigated, and do not believe Tuesday’s tragic end was anything more than a mistake. Wedding said the dad did not usually drop his son off at daycare.
“The employee was literally going back to the daycare thinking he’s picking the child up,” Wedding said.
A child’s body overheats as much as five times faster than an adult because they have less surface area to dissipate heat. Kidandcars.org reports 88 percent of kids who have died in hot cars are 3 and younger.
Wednesday was the hottest day of 2019 so far, so it doesn’t take long for disaster. Children have reportedly died from heatstroke in cars with temperatures as low at 60 degrees.
Last year 52 children died across the U.S. in hot cars. This year, 19 kids have died.
“A lot of times these children are usually asleep in the car seat, that’s why they have been left unattended accidentally because they’re not being noisy,” said Huhnke.
Indiana and Kentucky have laws protecting citizens from breaking a car window to rescue children from a hot car. Illinois does not have the same law.
While it may not make sense to some, you can ensure your child’s safety by leaving a reminder. There are car seat monitors and apps on your phone.
Experts say you can also leave your phone or purse in the back seat because you won’t get far before realizing it’s missing.
The most important thing, doctors say, is to make checking the back-seat part of your routine, and to look before you lock.
Wedding said the only charge he believes could stick is reckless homicide, but the child’s dad was not charged by the Sheriff’s Office.
According to the Sheriff, the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor now has the case, and after review, the office could decide to charge him.
As of Wednesday night, a spokeswoman for the Prosecutor’s Office denies the case file has been submitted.
This story was originally published on July 10, 2019