Sarasota man charged with manslaughter in death of daughter, 2, in hot car

jdeleon@bradenton.comJune 10, 2014 

SARASOTA -- A Sarasota man was charged with killing his 2-year-old daughter after leaving her in a hot car while he fell asleep inside his home, according to the Sarasota police.

Uriel Hernandez, 23, is charged with one count of felony aggravated manslaughter of a child.

Hernandez picked up the toddler, Alejandra Hernandez-Mendoza, from his ex-girlfriend's house at about 6 a.m. Sunday and drove to his mobile home in the 1500 block of Orange Avenue.

"The father went inside to get a phone charger and fell asleep, mistakenly leaving the child in the car," Sarasota Detective Sgt. Tom Shanafelt said. "When the father awoke about five hours later, he went out and found the child in the car and unresponsive."

Hernandez called the child's mother, who immediately rushed over. Both parents called 911.

The mother reportedly told detectives she found her daughter not breathing and unresponsive on Hernandez's bed when she arrived. The mother took the child out in front of the home until paramedics arrived.

The child was rushed to Sarasota Memorial Hospital about noon.

"Staff at the hospital deemed that the circumstances surrounding that child's death were suspicious as the child's body temperature was 106 degree," Shanafelt said.

Signs of rigor mortis were already setting in, according to the arrest report. Investigators say the outside temperature in Sarasota was between 85 degrees and 95 degrees at the time of the incident.

Sarasota police detectives initiated a child death investigation by conducting a recorded interview with Hernandez with a Spanish translator at the hospital.

"Uriel first said he found (her) in the bed warm to the touch and called 911 and (the mom)," Sarasota Detective Megan Buck wrote.

Hernandez is being held without bond at the Sarasota County jail.

An autopsy is expected to be completed late Monday to determine the cause of death, police said.

"This is an extremely tragic and unfortunate event that no parent should ever have to deal with," Shanafelt said. "It has been said, and it's true in this case, that no parent should ever bury their child."

The family has declined to make any comments to media, according to Sarasota Police spokeswoman Genevieve Judge

"The family is responding as you would expect to the loss of a 2-year-old child," Shanafelt said.

The family had no history with Department of Children and Families.

Police said it has been at least a few years since they have dealt with a case like this in Sarasota.

On June 22, 2013, 3-year-old Kyrese Dwayne Anderson died in Manatee County when her parents left her in the back seat of the family's black 2005 Chevy SUV Saturday afternoon for three to four hours while attending a funeral.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a vehicle with outside temperatures in the low 80s and a window rolled down 2 inches can reach deadly heat levels in as little as 10 minutes. Children under the age of 4 are also at higher risk for heat-related illness since their bodies overheat easily.

A review of cases by the NHTSA found most fatalities from child hyperthermia cases result from a change in the driver's routine.

Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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