Father charged after leaving son in hot SUV for nearly six hours

A 4-year-old Minnesota boy died after his father left him inside a hot SUV for nearly six hours while he worked, authorities said.

Kristopher Alexander Taylor, 26, of Apple Valley, was charged Monday with second-degree manslaughter in the death of his son, who was found “stiff” to the touch when Taylor returned to his SUV on Saturday after working at the Minnesota Monthly 8th Annual Grillfest at CHS Field in St. Paul, according to a criminal complaint obtained by the Star Tribune.

Taylor parked the vehicle in a spot “entirely exposed” to sunlight and told police he cracked just one of its windows roughly one-quarter to one-half inch for the boy. Taylor said he gave his son a handheld video game to pass the time and last checked on him at about 11:30 a.m. Saturday before returning nearly six hours later at 5:15 p.m., the complaint reads.

The boy — identified by a family friend as Riley Taylor — was left in Taylor’s care at about 2:30 a.m. Friday while his mother went to work. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital after Taylor returned to the SUV and found him unresponsive, the Star Tribune reports.

Temperatures during the nearly six-hour span ranged from 64 to 70 degrees, with partly cloudy to mostly cloudy skies, according to National Weather Service data. But reps from a national nonprofit advocacy group told the newspaper that children have died from heatstroke inside cars while temperatures dipped below 60 degrees outside.

“A vehicle acts like a greenhouse, heating up to deadly temperatures within minutes, even on a mild day,” KidsandCars.org told the Star Tribune in a statement. “Contrary to popular belief, cracking the windows does nothing to decrease the maximum temperature reached inside a vehicle. Additionally, a child’s body temperature rises 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s.”

A preliminary ruling from the medical examiner reported that Riley died of hyperthermia. A total of 52 children died inside cars due to excessive heat last year, making 2018 the deadliest year on record for such deaths. On average, 38 children die in hot cars annually — or one every nine days, according to the group, which has tracked data for more than 20 years.

Taylor, who was arrested at the hospital, told police he couldn’t find anyone to watch his son while he worked and didn’t think it was too hot to leave his son behind, citing prior instances, KSTP reports.

“Taylor said he had done it once in the past about a year ago and nothing bad happened to the boy on that occasion, but he admitted he had left the window entirely down that time,” the complaint reads.

Jan Null, a meteorologist at San Jose State University, said Riley is the fifth person nationwide to die inside a hot car this year. The interior of a vehicle in direct sunlight could exceed temperatures of 130 degrees if the outside temp is roughly 71 degrees, Null told the station.

Taylor, who has been released from custody after posting $25,000 bail, is scheduled to return to court on Friday.

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