A foster parent has been arrested on child endangerment charges after police said he left a 10-month-old girl he planned to adopt inside a sweltering vehicle outside his Wichita, Kan., home on Thursday.
The man, identified only as a 29-year-old man, picked up the girl and another 5-year-old foster child from a babysitter, but left the baby strapped in a car seat while it was 90 degrees outside, said Lt. Todd Ojile, the commander of the Wichita Police Department's Homicide Bureau.
The man called 911 around 6:40 p.m., and police later determined that the baby had been trapped in the car for nearly 2 1/2 hours, Ojile said. The child was pronounced dead a short time later, though an official cause of death has yet to be determined, Ojile said.
The 29-year-old was arrested on suspicion of aggravated child endangerment on Friday, Ojile said. Police will present their case to the Sedgwick County district attorney next week and determine if criminal charges will be filed.
The suspect and another 26-year-old man had six children in their custody. They are the parents of a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old, and are the foster parents of the victim, a 3-year-old, another 5-year-old and an 18-year-old, Ojile said.
The parents gained custody of the 10-month-old girl last October and were planning to adopt her, Ojile said. The 5-year-old and 7-year-old who were at the family's home on Thursday night have been placed in police protective custody, according to Ojile.
The deaths of children left in sweltering cars has gained national attention this summer after a Georgia man was charged with felony murder in a bizarre case in which his son died after being left in a car all day.
Cobb County prosecutors later said the man was living a double life, constantly "sexting" women besides his wife and that he wanted to be free of the responsibility of parenting.
Eighteen children have died of heat stroke this year after being left in hot cars, according to Kids and Cars, a Kansas-based child safety group. Ojile believed it was the first case of a child dying after being left in a hot car in Wichita's history.
“I’ve got a couple of homicide detectives been here 22 years and they’ve never remembered one," he said.
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