SPRING VALLEY – A baby who had been left alone for several hours in a parked car was found dead Tuesday, police said.
Police are investigating the circumstances behind the death of the 1-year-old, who was discovered at 4:39 p.m. in a car parked on Ridge Avenue, Detective Philip Fantasia said Wednesday in a news release.
Police did not disclose the infant’s gender or details about the family. The investigation is being conducted by the police, the Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Rockland Child Protective Services, and the Rockland Medical Examiner’s Office.
Babies die from being left unattended
Kids and Car Safety advocates for preventive methods to stop hot-car deaths among children. The organization said Wednesday the Spring Valley baby was the third child to die in a hot car nationwide this year and the first in New York. Police have not confirmed that heat was the cause of the baby’s death.
More than “1,050 children have died in hot cars since 1990 and at least another 7,300 survived with varying types and severity of injuries,” according to the group. Approximately 87% of children who die in hot cars are age 3 or younger and the majority — 56% — were unknowingly left by an otherwise loving, responsible parent or caregiver.
Technology exists that can prevent these unthinkable tragedies. The group said a provision was passed in November 2021 as a part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that requires the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue a regulation by November 2023 for technology in all new cars to help prevent hot car deaths.
Safety advocates are working to ensure that the technology that will be required is the most effective available.
“We are committed to the push for occupant detection technology in all cars immediately,” said Janette Fennell, founder and president of Kids and Car Safety. “As we continue our advocacy, children continue to die week after week. It is beyond heartbreaking.”
She said “automakers do not have to wait for the final regulation to be issued requiring technology” and “can add occupant detection technology to their vehicles today.”
David Diamond, professor of Psychology, Molecular Pharmacology, and Physiology, at the University of South Florida, has studied hot-car deaths for nearly two decades.
His research shows how the brain can go on autopilot during routine tasks — like driving children to daycare on the way to work — but that an interruption in the subconscious memory system can cause a false memory that makes one believe the routine task was completed, as it usually happens.
Warmer temperatures mean more kids and families are at risk.
“Every summer we raise awareness about hot car tragedies and every summer beautiful, healthy children continue to die in hot cars,” Kids and Car Safety said in a statement. “Effective and available technology to detect the presence of a child trapped inside a hot car must be required as standard equipment in all new cars immediately.“
Rockland family’s tragedy with twins
In 2019, a New City father, Juan Rodriguez, faced criminal charges in the Bronx after he left his twins strapped into their car seats. He found them in the Honda Accord after leaving work at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx. The charges included second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and endangering the welfare of a child.
Authorities say their body temperatures had reached 108 degrees while temperatures outside climbed into the high 80s.
Rodriguez, then 39 and an Iraqi war veteran, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of second-degree reckless endangerment. Bronx Criminal Court Judge Jeffrey Rosenblueth sentenced him to a one-year conditional discharge.
He had dropped his 4-year-old off at daycare and then drove to work with the twins in child safety seats.
Just days after the incident, Rodriguez found Diamond’s research as he tried to fathom how the incident happened.
Diamond, in a 2020 interview with USA Today Network, recalled the emotional call that day. “I could just sense how he had a combination of being so distraught and so depressed,” he said. “He needed my help.”
Anyone with information on the Ridge Avenue case can call Detective Yakov Polowin at 845-356-7400 or email the Police Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.