Condition of toddler left in car improves

  • LAURA RUMINSKI/West Hawaii Today file photo The condition of a 2-year-old girl who was left unattended in a car for nearly two hours in early May in the Coconut Grove Marketplace parking lot (pictured) in Kailua-Kona is improving, according to Big Island police.

KAILUA-KONA — The condition of a 2-year-old girl left for hours in a car in a downtown Kailua-Kona parking lot last month has improved.

The Kailua-Kona toddler remained hospitalized at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children on Oahu, but her condition stabilized since the incident May 5 in a parking lot at Coconut Grove Marketplace in Kailua Village, said Hawaii Police Department Area II Criminal Investigations Division Commander Reed K. Mahuna.

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Mahuna said the reckless endangerment investigation continues, and a detective was sent to Oahu to do some follow-up work for the probe. As of Friday, no arrests had been made.

The girl was intubated and flown to the state’s only children’s hospital in critical condition the evening of May 5 after she was found in an unattended vehicle in the parking lot behind Bongo Ben’s Island Cafe. By the time police arrived at the scene, medics already were in the process of transporting the child, who was suffering from heat exhaustion.

Police investigating the incident said the child was locked inside the parked vehicle for nearly two hours before her family realized her whereabouts were unknown and tracked her down. The car was in no or very little shade.

According to police, the father said the family was shopping earlier that day, and after he dropped them off at home, he headed to work. He did not realize his daughter was asleep in the vehicle.

When the family realized the girl was not at the house, the child’s aunt drove to the father’s place of employment and found the toddler in the vehicle, police said.

The Hawaii Fire Department said the day of the incident that the child appeared to have suffered from heat exhaustion, the precursor to heatstroke. Heatstroke is one of the leading causes of non-crash-related fatalities among children, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Heatstroke begins when the core body temperature reaches about 104 degrees and the thermoregulatory system is overwhelmed. A core body temperature of about 107 degrees is lethal.

Email Chelsea Jensen at cjensen@westhawaiitoday.com.

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