Investigation Underway for Toddler Who Died in Hot Car

SACRAMENTO -- The sheriff's department is investigating after a 2-year-old was found dead inside his family's car in South Sacramento.

While it's unclear how the child got inside the vehicle Saturday, it appears he became trapped, with the windows rolled up. Since the temperatures were in the hundreds at the time, the boy did not survive.

Those who live on Everbloom Way knew of the 2-year-old boy, who was later identified by the coroner's office as Alejandro Lopez. They would often see him playing out on the street with other kids. Now, everyone wishes they could have done more to save Alejandro's life.

"And the next thing I know is I see the ambulance coming and fire truck and they're running," said neighbor Joe Richards.

On Saturday, Richards knew something was wrong just a few houses down his street on Everbloom Way.

"And as I got up and walked to the sidewalk, I seen, I guess she was the mother, she was laying out in the middle of the street hollering, 'Oh!' Just hollering and crying. Police trying to grab her and calm her down and she was just running around in circles," Richards said.

Sacramento County Sheriff's Sgt. Shaun Hampton stated that "other folks that were there performed life-saving measures, CPR and other stuff to try to cool the child and bring him back. But unfortunately, those efforts were unsuccessful."

"That's heartbreaking because I didn't even think," Richards told FOX40.

Another neighbor told FOX40 off camera that multiple children live at the home with the toddler and their single mother.

Richards and others on the street say that the 2-year-old boy would often be seen leaving the house on his own.

"I be seeing [him] during the day, you know running out. You know, coming out the street and running down the street," Richards said. "And next thing I know I get to looking and, 'Damn, where the parents?' And next thing I know I see someone running out and grab the baby, because the baby used to always run across the street."

According to neighbors, someone who once lived in the home had mobility issues, so the locks were lower on the door. Neighbors believe that may have been one reason why Alejandro kept escaping.

Another neighbor told FOX40 off camera he had seen Alejandro stuck in that same car about a week and a half ago. But that time, neighbors were able to tell his older brother, who got the keys and got him out. But it's still unclear how the boy got into the car on Saturday and how long he was inside.

"These type of things, unfortunately, we see them every summer," Hampton said.

The Sacramento County Sheriff's Department says their Child Abuse Bureau is investigating at the toddler's home on Everbloom Way. No arrests have been made.

Police say the tragedy should serve as a warning to all parents.

According to the nonprofit Kids and Cars, on average 37 kids die every year after being trapped in a hot car. Eighty-eight percent of children who have died from vehicular heat stroke are age 3 or younger. A child’s body overheats three to five times faster than an adult’s body, according to the nonprofit.

"If we find a dog, or any other animal, or child in a vehicle unattended and it's hot and they look like they're in distress, we will break the window,” Hampton said. “And we encourage anyone that finds themselves in that situation to use their good judgement and move forward and take action if necessary."

Later Sunday night, neighbors say they would hold a vigil for Alejandro to show his family how much he'll be missed.

The cause of death has not been released by the coroner's office.