A Texas sheriff’s deputy is out of a job and facing felony charges after allegedly leaving his 2-month-old baby inside of his hot car for three hours on Monday.
Antonio Almaraz was arrested and swiftly dismissed from the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office in San Antonio while his newborn was hospitalized in critical condition, authorities said.
The 31-year-old, who was on probation due to his recent hire in February, allegedly returned home from a pediatrics appointment at 10 a.m. but left the child inside his parked car. It wasn’t until around 1 p.m. that the child was found unresponsive inside the vehicle, the sheriff’s office said.
Temperatures in the San Antonio area were forecast to hit around 94 degrees on Monday, according to the National Weather Service in San Antonio.
The baby was taken to a hospital with an ambulance and remained in critical condition as of Tuesday, the sheriff’s office said.
Deputies responding to the incident said Almaraz gave conflicting statements. He was arrested on charges of reckless injury to a child — a second-degree felony — abandoning a child with intent to return, and endangering a child.
Because he was on probation, he cannot file an appeal or be rehired regardless of the criminal case’s outcome, the sheriff’s department said.
“Given the amount of awareness in the community regarding leaving children unattended in vehicles, there is absolutely no valid excuse for this to have occurred,” said Sheriff Javier Salazar in a statement. “My family and I are praying for the best possible outcome for this precious baby.”
An attorney listed as representing Almaraz did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Leaving a child inside of a parked car for just 10 minutes can prove deadly, with temperatures inside the vehicle able to rise by nearly 20 degrees, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which adds that rolling windows down or parking in the shade does little to change the interior temperature of the vehicle.
A child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult’s, which can result in heat stroke or death if the child’s core body temperature reaches about 104 degrees, the NHTSA advises.
Officials recommend making it a habit to check a vehicle’s back seat before locking the doors and walking away. One way to do this is by placing a personal item, like a purse or briefcase, in the backseat as a reminder to look in the back. Placing a note or a stuffed animal in the passenger’s seat can be another reminder.