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Baby Dies in Car Seat

March 22, 2001

DALLAS (AP) _ A 5-month-old baby died in his car seat while his mother was at work at a nearby restaurant. The distraught woman told authorities she must have forgotten to drop him off at day care.

An autopsy was pending to determine the exact cause of Ethan Fletcher’s death Wednesday. Temperatures in Dallas reached 73 degrees and officials said that the temperature in a closed car could easily build up to nearly 100.

Witnesses described hearing screams from the woman when she returned to the car Wednesday afternoon. She told police she had recalled dropping the boy off at day care before going to work.

``It’s a tragic example of how quickly these things can happen,″ police Deputy Chief Alfredo Saldana said. ``It’s a violation of the law to leave your child unattended for even five minutes.″

The 24-year-old Plano woman, whose name was not released, was questioned by police and released, but could later face charges of criminally negligent homicide. After the medical examiner determines the cause of death, the case will be forwarded to the district attorney’s office, Saldana said.

The mother arrived for work at about 10 a.m. The child’s body was discovered at about 3 p.m.

``I heard these two bloodcurdling screams and ran over to see what the problem was,″ witness Tony Fraga said. ``I saw the baby in the car and tried to help.″

The child’s grandmother told The Dallas Morning News her daughter, a single mother, was devastated on the loss of her only child.

``This baby was everything to her,″ the grandmother said. ``She will never be the same. She loved this baby so much.″

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