Two-year-old boy dies after being found unresponsive in hot car amid Kansas heat wave
A two-year-old boy reportedly died after he was found unresponsive inside a hot car in Scranton, Kansas, on Sunday afternoon, July 31.
Deputies from the Osage County Sheriff's Office responded to an unspecified address in northern Osage County at 3.40 pm local time when they found the toddler. The boy was rushed to Topeka's Stormont Vail Health, where he was pronounced dead. Sheriff Chris Wells said there were indications the death may have been heat-related and that they are investigating the incident.
Temperatures in Topeka, located 23 miles from Scranton, peaked at 92F on Sunday with an average of 80.5F throughout the day, according to the National Weather Service. Meanwhile, the temperature at 4 pm, around the time the police were called, was 90F with a heat index of 101. While the name of the deceased child has not been publicly revealed, Wells told Newsweek that they had information suggesting the child "climbed into the vehicle" rather than being left there. "This incident is still under thorough investigation. All evidence as of this moment indicates this was a tragic accident, and that no crime was committed," he told the outlet. "The child was a boy, and information we are gathering indicates the child was likely playing and climbed into the vehicle, rather than being left in the vehicle. At this time, we will not be releasing the name of the child or the child's family." The exact cause of death, however, will be determined by an autopsy that is scheduled to take place.
Scranton is a former coal town named after Scranton, Pennsylvania, and had a population of just 653 per the 2020 census. The town had an average household income of $58,214, with 12.5 percent of its residents holding a bachelor's degree or higher. The community primarily consists of "single-family housing, several rental properties, two mobile home parks, and an income-based apartment complex for the aging and disabled," Newsweek reported, citing the Clerk's Office.
This comes amid a series of reported hot car deaths involving children. In July, an 11-year-old boy died in his mother's car when she was completing a hospice shift in Florida. Tallahassee Police said the child was left in the vehicle "inadvertently" and his mother found him "unresponsive" after finishing her day's work. "Being in a vehicle for any certain amount of time will take anyone's temperature up by any number of degrees," Paige Stewart, from Safe Kids Big Bend, told WCTV. "And for children, their bodies heat up by 3 to 5 times faster than adults."
At least 12 children have died across the country so far this year in hot car-related incidents, per the nonprofit KidsandCars. In June, a three-year-old boy in Columbus, Georgia, died of asphyxiation after being left in a hot car for three hours, per the Muscogee County coroner. The same month saw a five-year-old succumb to heat after being left in a car in Houston, Texas, prompting an investigation by the Harris County Sheriff's Office.