Child Left In Health Clinic Van On Hot Day Found Dead

Authorities estimate the temperature inside the vehicle reached 141 degrees.

A 5-year-old boy died Monday after workers at an Arkansas children’s health clinic allegedly left him in a hot van, police said.

Authorities were called to Ascent Children’s Health Services in West Memphis around 3:30 p.m. Monday, after Christopher Gardner, Jr. was found in one of the van’s booster seats. Paramedics were unable to resuscitate the child, police said.

Christopher’s mother told Memphis’ WMC Action News the van picked her son up around 6:30 a.m. that day. Authorities said the van arrived at the clinic’s day care center about 45 minutes later. Records kept by the facility show someone signed the boy in that morning indicating he was present, WREG News reported.

The West Memphis Police Department said they suspect the child was left unattended for at least eight hours, on a day when outside temperatures reached 80 degrees.

In addition to a driver, an adult passenger is reportedly assigned to each van to ensure the safety of the passengers.

“They didn’t get off their, excuse my language, off their ass and look,” Christopher’s great grandmother, Carrie Smith, told WMC Action News. “I’m very upset about it. They didn’t look, and they can’t tell me they looked.”

Christopher Gardner Jr. died alone inside a hot van, police said
Christopher Gardner Jr. died alone inside a hot van, police said

According to the Ascent Children’s Health Services’ website, the company “provides quality outpatient and day treatment services to children and their families that are in need of mental health or developmental care.”

Smith said Christopher, who had two heart surgeries, had been going to the facility since he was one years old.

Inside Edition reported investigators believe the temperature in the van rose to at least 141 degrees while the child was in it.

“You can see that my great grandbaby suffered in that van,” Smith told WMC Action News. “That wasn’t right.”

Authorities say they are still investigating the events surrounding the child’s death. The van’s driver has not been named and no arrests have been made.

David Lohr covers crime and missing persons. Tips? Feedback? Send an email or follow him on Twitter.



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