A HORRIFIC scene unfolded last evening in Penal after a grandfather, who left his infant grandson in the back seat of his car for more than eight hours while he went to work, returned to find the child dead.
Up to late last night, crime scene investigators were at Petrotrin’s Clarke Road, Penal facility, where the 56-year-old grandfather is employed as an electrical foreman.
Police said it is likely that 17-month-old Jadon Cudjoe died from hyperthermia due to the extreme heat, since yesterday’s high temperature was expected to reach 34 degrees Celsius, and except for some light morning showers, it was sunny throughout the day.
Police said the man, of Old Quinam Road, Aquat Village, Penal, was supposed to have dropped off the child at the home of a relative who was the regular baby-sitter. However, the man said he forgot that the child was strapped into the back seat of the car, which he parked in the company’s parking lot, locked the doors and put up the windows and left to attend to his duties at around 7.30 a.m.
A police officer said the man was excited to report for work yesterday because he had been told he was being promoted. He received the call about the promotion while taking the child to the baby-sitter, police said.
The man said he had no memory that the baby was in the car until he returned to the vehicle at 4 p.m. to find little Jadon unresponsive. Baby Jadon could not be revived, despite attempts by paramedics. The grandfather was said to be inconsolable, and several police officers also broke down and cried on seeing the tortured look on the child’s face. Petrotrin Estate officers contacted Penal detectives, and Southern Division homicide officers have joined in the investigation.
An autopsy is expected to be performed today at the Forensic Science Centre, St James.
There have been dozens of incidents internationally where children have died after being left inside a vehicle for long periods of time, in most cases from hyperthermia caused by extreme heat.
Just last Thursday, a 30-year-old man, David (Richie) Gray III, 30, was charged with neglect after he reportedly forgot his 13-month-old daughter in the back seat of his car in Hartsville, South Carolina, USA, and she died from the heat.
A number of similar incidents took place last year, including in Perth Australia, where an 11-month-old boy died after his father forgot to drop him off at his day-care centre, leaving him in the car for most of the day.
A Phoenix, Arizona man was also charged with second degree murder after he left his one-year-old son in his car and went to work and the boy died.
On Monday in Clarkston, Georgia, a two-year-old appeared to have crawled into a car through an open door and trapped herself inside.
The girl and her siblings were playing outside and she was later found when the adults realised she was missing.
The website kidsandcars.org reports that an average of 38 children die in similar circumstances every year.
“Even the best of parents or caregivers can unknowingly leave a sleeping baby in a car and the end result can be injury or even death,” the website states.
—with reporting by Kim Boodram