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Arizona toddler, 3, dies in hot car as mom falls asleep after having alcohol and cocaine the night before

Tianna Jones was arrested after officers found her toddler daughter unresponsive in her car and could not save her
Tianna Jones (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Tianna Jones (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

PHOENIX, ARIZONA: An Arizona woman was arrested and charged after her toddler daughter was found unconscious in her car and died this past week, police have said.

Officers from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office responded to an apartment complex near 29th Avenue and Thunderbird Road at around 4:38 pm on Sunday, August 30, after receiving a report from a mother that her three-year-old was missing, according to the Arizona Republic.

When officers arrived at the scene, they were met by 23-year-old Tianna Jones, who told them that she could not find her toddler, Delilah. After the officers started searching the area, she told them that her car keys were missing as well.

Delilah was eventually found unresponsive in Jones' vehicle, which was parked in the apartment complex's lot, revealed police spokesperson Sgt. Mercedes Fortune. The three-year-old was rushed to an area hospital but could not be saved, and was pronounced dead. 

Jones told investigators that Delilah had escaped multiple times out the front door before due to a faulty latch. Surveillance footage from the apartment showed the young girl walking out of the apartment and finding her way into the car more than four hours before Jones started looking for her and called 911.

During their investigation, detectives learned that Jones had fallen asleep during the day after partying the previous night, "drinking alcohol and using cocaine", according to a probable cause report filed in court by the Phoenix police. They also found that Delilah had been removed from Jones' custody for neglect.

The 23-year-old was subsequently arrested and booked at Maricopa County Jail on suspicion of child abuse, a felony charge. While the official cause of Delilah's death will be determined by the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office, the National Weather Service recorded Phoenix's high temperature at 103 degrees on the day.

In Arizona, there have been 45 deaths of children trapped in hot cars since 1994, the fourth highest in the country, according to Delilah's death would be the first in Arizona and the 20th across the country this year.

MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) had previously reported on a similar case in the same area where Delilah was found. An 18-month-old toddler had died in Phoenix in April 2019 after she was left inside a car on a day when temperatures outside touched a scorching 88 degrees. 

The baby girl was found not breathing in the car by officers in Glendale who were called to the scene. Investigators said the child's father had found her in that state in the car, which was parked at an apartment complex near 51st Avenue and Thunderbird Road.

Glendale police spokeswoman Tiffany Ngalula said the father began performing CPR while awaiting paramedics and that multiple neighbors who saw him desperately trying to revive the toddler also called 911. She was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency response personnel.

While it was unclear how long she had been left inside the vehicle, police said in a statement that all the windows of the white Nissan sedan were rolled up and the 18-month-old had been inside the car at least a few hours. They confirmed that she had "died from being left inside the vehicle."