Police say father will be charged after baby left in hot van dies

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by Alicia E. Barrón and Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on June 27, 2010 at 10:48 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 28 at 11:47 AM

PHOENIX -- Phoenix police said charges will be filed with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office in connection with the death of a  Phoenix toddler who was left in a hot car for over two hours on a day when the temperature soared over 100 degrees.

Detective James Holmes of the Phoenix Police Department said those charges of negligence will be filed against the father.

"At some point, as horrible as this is for that family ... someone has to speak for the child," Holmes said. "Ultimately [the father] was responsible for ensuring Zipporah was out of that car when the rest of the family got out yesterday afternoon."

Zipporah Johnson's parents had gone to church with their six children and traveled in two vehicles, one of which was a minivan. They returned home at about 2:30 p.m.

When Zipporah's dad got inside the minivan to run errands at about 5 p.m., he reportedly found his baby girl in the back seat.

Police said the family was trying to administer first aid to the 21-month-old when paramedics arrived at the scene near 35th and Southern avenues.

The girl was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital where she died. Police do suspect her death was caused by heat-related injuries.

There were five other kids and a couple of adults, but nobody noticed that Zipporah was not there.

A neighbor, who chose not to provide his name, says this case involves a great family.

"She's always a nice person. I go to church with her. Everybody keeps on making mistakes. It's just that this one right here is a mistake that you can't bring back that kid."

The neighbor also told 3TV that the child's mother operates a day-care center but it is not open on Sundays.

It was 108 degrees Sunday. On a hot day, the temperature inside a closed car can jump to more than 140 degrees in less than 15 minutes.

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