ST. PAUL, MN (WCCO/CNN) - Police say a 26-year-old father in Minnesota left his 4-year-old in a hot car for at least five hours while he was at work, resulting in the boy’s death.
Kristopher Taylor, 26, is charged with second degree manslaughter in the death of his 4-year-old son, Riley Taylor. If convicted, the father could serve a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Police say Taylor brought his unresponsive son to the hospital Saturday. Riley was not breathing and did not move.
"He told officers at the scene he thought his son was dehydrated. He had left him in the car for a short period of time,” said St. Paul Police spokesman Steve Linders.
Doctors were not able to save the 4-year-old.
Taylor told police he and his son had gone to GrillFest, a food festival in St. Paul, MN, earlier in the day around 11:30 a.m. The father worked the festival, at first telling officers he had brought Riley to work with him before returning him to the vehicle.
"Initially, he said he had brought his son to work with him and watched him for a while, and then, after a certain amount of time, his son was tired, so he brought him back to the vehicle, put him in the vehicle, cracked the window and then went back to work for just a few hours,” Linders said.
However, when police spoke to Taylor’s co-workers, they told officers the father never left during his shift. Taylor then changed his story.
"The father told us that the child had in fact been in the vehicle all day while he had been at work, so at least five hours,” Linders said.
According to the criminal complaint, the lot where Taylor parked his car was entirely exposed to the sun. The father allegedly told officers “he didn’t think it was that hot.” He also said he had previously left Riley in the car, and nothing bad happened.
The Ramsey County medical examiner determined the 4-year-old’s death was the result of hyperthermia, or a dangerously high body temperature.
Julie Philbrook, a trauma specialist for Hennepin Healthcare, says you should never leave a child in a car unattended.
"Kids aren’t able to regulate their temperatures, so even just a little bit of rise can cause their core temperature to go to a point where it’s just too hot for them to survive,” she said. "It doesn’t matter if the sun is direct or not, the car temperature goes up three degrees every five minutes.”