AMERICAN FORK, Utah (ABC4) – An 11-year-old boy was found dead inside a car in American Fork Wednesday afternoon.
Police say the child was found around 1:30 p.m. in a car parked outside Roost Services, an organization that serves those with intellectual disabilities located near 42 North 200 East.
According to the American Fork Police Department, the boy was being taken to the business and was left inside the car by a staff member who was responsible for multiple children.
“This is an absolutely horrific situation that everyone is dealing with right now,” Lt. Josh Christensen of the American Fork Police Department says.
Paramedics attempted to perform life-saving measures on the boy but he was tragically pronounced dead at the scene
Police say the 11-year-old was inside the car for approximately two hours before he was found. All of the car’s windows were rolled up and the doors were closed.
“Just imagine a sunny day with those kinds of temperatures outside. A car that sat two hours in a parking lot… it could be anywhere between 20 to 30 to 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature,” Lt. Josh Christensen adds.
An investigation is underway to determine if there will be any criminal charges as a result of the boy’s death.
“We are looking at everything from potential charges to it being a horrific accident. When you’re looking at criminal elements there are many things you have to take into account. Whether there may be intent, whether it is reckless or negligent behavior that led to this…so we’re still early in trying to determine that,” Lt. Josh Christensen tells ABC4.
ABC4 has a crew at the scene gathering more information.
Investigators are looking into what contributed to the boy being left inside the car as well as why he wasn’t able to get out on his own.
Police told ABC4 News all of the staff involved are cooperating with the investigation.
An autopsy will be done and staff at Roost Services will continue to be interviewed by police to try and figure out how this could’ve happened.
ABC4 has reached out to Roost Services for comment but has not heard back.
Many people are devastated knowing this death could have been prevented.
“It was very tragic for the staff members that are here. In fact, I got from some of my officers that this has really struck a chord with them. They’re really struggling, as well as some of our fire personnel,” says Lt. Josh Christensen.
Janette E. Fennell is the Founder and President of Kids and Cars, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing children from getting hurt or dying in motor vehicles.
“Almost 90 percent of the children who die are age three or younger so this case is a little out of the ordinary…but not really because you have a helpless person in a car with no means to escape,” Fennell explains.
This is the 14th hot car death in the state of Utah since 1996 and the first one to happen this year.
“Nobody wants that number to get any bigger but unfortunately, that happened today,” Fennell says.
She believes the Hot Cars Act will stop tragedies like these from happening.
It would require all new passenger motor vehicles to have a child safety alert system in them. The bill has already passed the House and is now in the Senate for consideration.