A 27-year-old Phoenix woman may face charges after her friend’s 3-year-old son died as a result of being inside a hot car for hours, KTVK-TV reported on Monday.
“It’s obvious that the 27-year-old forgot that the child was in the car,” police spokesperson Officer James Holmes said in a statement on Monday morning. “She was in a hurry. She had something that she had to do, and she didn’t take a minute to make sure.”
The boy, identified as Haden Nelson, and his mother reportedly spent Friday night at the woman’s residence, in advance of the two women attending choir practice at Abundant Life Church on Saturday, with the mother scheduled to go in earlier.
The suspect arrived at the church around 11 a.m. with Nelson and two other children. Holmes said she arrived “a bit late” and went into the building for practice immediately after arriving. The outside temperature at the time was between 95 and 97 degrees. According to The Weather Channel, temperatures inside a locked car can climb to 138 degrees within 90 minutes if the temperature outside is 90 degrees.
According to Holmes, the boy’s mother did not realize he was not there until practice concluded around 2 p.m.
“Everyone began searching the church for the victim and the suspect went to the parking lot; it was then that she found the child still inside the vehicle and in medical distress,” he said.
The Associated Press reported that the boy was taken to a local hospital, where he died on Sunday afternoon.
The woman was released, but prosecutors are determining whether to charge her.
“You cannot imagine what this young lady is going through right now, what this family is going through,” Holmes said.
According to the non-profit safety advocacy group Kids in Cars, Nelson’s death marks the 28th fatality this year connected to heatstroke from being left inside a vehicle.