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Gilbert dad won’t be prosecuted in daughter’s hot car death

(KTAR News Photo/Ali Vetnar)

PHOENIX – For the second time this month, metro Phoenix prosecutors decided not to press charges in the death of a child left in a hot car last year.

A father who left his 3-year-old daughter in a vehicle outside their Gilbert home on Sept. 3 will not be prosecuted, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said in a press release Tuesday.

“This case did not support a reasonable likelihood of conviction at trial,” the release said.

Police said the child had been in the car two to three hours on a day when the temperature reached 109 degrees.

Gilbert police arrested the man in December after completing their investigation referred the case to county prosecutors, who have final say on the pursuit of charges.

Days after the incident, police released redacted transcripts of the 911 calls from the girl’s parents.

In the call from the mother, who was at work, the operator asked if the father was taking the girl, identified as Charlie, to school that morning.

The response: “No, she was supposed to go to school and we decided to keep her home, cause we’re leaving on vacation tomorrow. And so, he was just gonna keep her today. And he – I just called him at lunch break and I asked how (Charlie’s) doing and he’s like, oh my God. Where’s (Charlie)? Oh my God. Oh my God. Is – is she in the car (unintelligible)? And then he ran out there and she was in the car.”

In the other call, the operator gave directions about how to perform CPR after the father said the girl wasn’t breathing.

“Oh my God I just didn’t drop her off at school today,” he said at one point.

Tuesday’s announcement came a week after MCAO said it wouldn’t prosecute the foster father of a baby girl who died after he left her in a vehicle last year in Phoenix.

The 4-month-old girl was found dead Oct. 1 at the Washington Elementary School District Service Center in the personal vehicle of her 56-year-old foster father, a district administrator who worked there.

The high temperature in Phoenix was around 90 degrees that day.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the inside of a car can heat up to 120 degrees in 30 minutes even when the outside temperature is 85 degrees.

According to KidsAndCars.org, four Arizona children died in 2019 after being left in hot cars.

In September, Dawn Peabody of KidsAndCars.org told KTAR News 92.3 FM that most hot car deaths are accidents, not cases where the caretaker purposely left a child in the car without understanding the danger.

Peabody and other advocates are pushing for federal legislation to make back seat sensor alarm technology mandatory in all new vehicles.

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.

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