A Henrico County toddler died Wednesday after his father left him in a hot car on a parking deck at an office park in Goochland County, authorities said.
The father apparently forgot to drop off 17-month-old Riaan Gondesi at day care and went to work at the Capital One campus at the West Creek business park, said Goochland Sheriff James L. Agnew.
The boy was left strapped in a car seat inside a 2016 Acura MDX sport utility vehicle for about three hours while the car was parked on the uncovered deck of a parking garage, authorities said.
“What the temperature actually was inside the vehicle I can’t say,” Agnew said. “But it was very hot.”
Temperatures outside on Wednesday climbed from about 80 degrees to 90 degrees during the time Riaan was in the car from 9:30 a.m. until about 12:30 p.m.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the temperature inside a vehicle can rise almost 20 degrees within the first 10 minutes of it being parked. The agency says children should never be left alone in or around vehicles for any reason.
Riaan’s father left Wednesday morning with the boy in his car seat and arrived at work at Capital One at 9:30 a.m., Agnew said.
About 12:20 p.m., someone from the boy’s day care center contacted the child’s mother and asked if her son was going to be dropped off.
“The mother called the father,” Agnew said. “He ran out to the car and discovered his son.”
The two parents each called 911 about 12:30 p.m.
Goochland Fire-Rescue personnel responded to the scene along with sheriff’s deputies and Capital One security, and efforts were made to revive the unconscious boy. He was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:21 p.m.
“These are the cases that just break your heart,” said Dr. Stephen Miller, who works at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Emergency Medicine and leads the department’s emergency preparedness efforts. “During this time of year, it’s unfortunately something that we see.”
Babies, young children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to heat-related injuries because their bodies cannot regulate temperature as well as a healthy younger adult’s can, Miller said.
Patients brought in with symptoms of heat-related injury often will have a rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure and appear confused or are unresponsive. As the damage progresses, organs begin to shut down, he said.
“At a certain level, your cooling system starts failing,” Miller said. “A real concern this time of year is anyone stuck in a confined area, including elderly people in homes without air conditioning; we really stress the importance of checking on neighbors at this time of year.”
The medical examiner has custody of the boy’s body for autopsy to determine the cause of death.
This case is still under investigation and no charges have been filed. Authorities did not identify the boy’s parents.
The Goochland Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office will determine whether charges will be placed after the investigation is complete, the sheriff’s office said.
KidsAndCars.org says at least 31 children nationwide have died this year after being in hot cars. The organization conducts research on how often children are injured, abducted, disabled or killed because they are left unattended in or around vehicles.
On average, 37 children died each year from 2013 to 2017 from being in hot cars, according to KidsAndCars.
In Chesterfield County, two 5-month-old twins, a boy and a girl, died in May after they unintentionally were left inside their family’s overheated SUV. No charges have been filed in the case.