A San Antonio, Texas sheriff’s deputy, Antonio Almaraz, 31, was arrested and terminated from his position after leaving his 2-month-old baby in a hot car for approximately three hours on Monday, authorities stated. The incident occurred on a day when temperatures were forecasted to reach as high as 94 degrees. The infant was discovered unresponsive in the vehicle and was rushed to the hospital, where they remained in critical condition as of Tuesday. Almaraz provided conflicting statements about the incident, but investigators determined that he had taken the child to a routine doctor’s appointment in the morning before returning home, turning off the vehicle, and leaving the baby behind. The sheriff’s office was notified of the incident by the hospital.
Almaraz, who was still in his probationary period, had been hired on Feb. 20 and received an order of dismissal. He is facing charges of injury to a child, abandoning a child with intent to return, and endangering a child. Hot car deaths are a significant cause of non-crash-related vehicle fatalities among children in the U.S., and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration emphasizes the danger of leaving children unattended in vehicles. Over the past 25 years, more than 950 children have died from hot car incidents, with a majority of cases resulting from caregivers forgetting a child in a hot car. The NHTSA also notes a decrease in child hot car deaths in recent years, partially attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on remote work. In 2020 and 2021, the annual numbers for hot car deaths involving children were 25 and 23, respectively, compared to 53 in 2019. Last year, a total of 33 such deaths were reported.