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Twin Cities 4-year-old left in hot car dies; dad charged

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An Apple Valley man has been arrested after leaving his 4-year-old son in an SUV Saturday in St. Paul, where the child apparently died of hyperthermia.

The Ramsey County Attorney's Office on Monday charged 26-year-old Kristopher Taylor with second-degree manslaughter in the death of his son.

The criminal complaint says Taylor was working at Grillfest at CHS Field, the St. Paul Saints stadium. He left his son in the vehicle with the window cracked because he couldn't find care for the boy while he was working at the event.

Taylor told police he went to work just before noon and returned just after 5 p.m. to find his son unresponsive. He took the boy to nearby Regions Hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Authorities said they found no signs of trauma and believe the boy died in the hot car, although the case remains under investigation.

The boy is believed to be the fifth child to die of hyperthermia in a vehicle so far this year following a record year for such deaths across the country in 2018, when 52 children suffered heat-related deaths in cars.

Although the high temperature in the Twin Cities was only listed as 71 degrees by the National Weather Service on Saturday, the heat in closed vehicles can easily rise 40 to 50 degrees above the ambient air temperature, according to Janette Fennell, founder of Kids and Cars, a nonprofit based in Kansas City, Mo., that tracks and tries to prevent such deaths.

"We've actually documented cases where the temperatures were in the 50s," said Fennell. "A car acts like a greenhouse ... and a lot of people don't understand that children's bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult's. So you put all that scenario together and you have a real recipe for a disaster."

Fennell said that cars are never a substitute for child care, and that it's best to keep vehicles locked at all times after checking to make sure that no one is inside to keep small children from closing themselves up inside.

Kids and Cars also has a prevention initiative called "Look Before You Lock," urging drivers to always get out and open the rear door of their vehicles to make sure no one is left inside, as well as to make a plan with any child care providers to alert parents if kids unexpectedly don't show up at their care provider.