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Toddler dies during family reunion in St. George

ST. GEORGE – A family reunion turns tragic after a two-year-old dies after accidentally being left in a hot vehicle.

Weather reports show temperatures reached 106 degrees in St. George over the weekend.  Child safety experts say it only takes a few minutes for a vehicle to heat up to the point where it raises the child’s temperature.

“Kids’ heat regulation systems, especially young kids, are not as efficient as they are when you’re an adult,” said Cambree Applegate, Safe Kids Utah Director for the Utah Department of Health.  She adds, “Once they reach 104-105 degrees, that’s when it’s critical.”

Washington County investigators say the child was traveling in a coach-style van with two adults and other children and fell asleep.  The other kids exited the van in St. George, but the toddler didn’t.

Applegate says these kinds of accidents are more common than people might think.  She recommends families use the buddy system when traveling with lots of children, so no one is left behind.

“All the kids know they’re buddied up with one other person, and if their buddy is missing, they need to tell an adult,” she says.

The Washington County Attorney’s Office will screen the case and decide if charges are appropriate, but investigators say it appears to be just a bad accident.

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