Infant Dies After Being Forgotten Inside Family Minivan
by Heather Graf
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - For the second time in less than a week, a mid-state child was found dead inside a hot car.
The latest case brought police to a church daycare in Donelson, where a devastated mother made the discovery she had left her baby in the backseat of her minivan, all day long.
Emergency officials were called to a daycare operated out of Donelson Heights United Methodist Church on Fairway Drive just after 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.
"The mother of a five-month-old came to pick him up at the daycare center," said Kris Mumford with Metro Police. "She was informed that her son was not there. She ran to her minivan, found the five-month-old child inside the van."
Police later identified the infant as five-month-old Joel Gray.
They said staff at the daycare tried to revive the child, but it was too late.
Police said the mother, 38-year-old Stephanie Gray, told officials she took her two younger children, ages 6 and 9, to school and then returned home to pick up her 11-year-old son and baby Joel. She then dropped off her 11-year-old at school and returned home without dropping Joel off at his daycare.
"Our understanding is that this was his second day coming to this daycare, that yesterday was his first day," said Mumford.
It's believed the baby instead remained in the backseat for hours as the van sat parked in the family's driveway. Eventually, police said he was overcome by the heat.
Gray was so overcome with emotion when she learned of her son's death, she was taken to the hospital. There was no word on her condition.
Officials have not yet filed any charges against her.
Police said their investigation has found the child was never at the church or daycare. The church was not at fault in this case.
NewsChannel 5 spoke with Janette Fennell, who is the president and founder of KidsAndCars.org.
She said incidents like this one are heartbreaking, but preventable. She also said it can happen to anyone.
"Well the first thing that parents and everyone need to understand is that this can and does happen to anyone," she said. "And if you don't think it can happen to you, you're making a big mistake. People want to blame parents for being bad parents, and that's not what this is about."
Fennell's company's website outlines tips parents can follow to keep their kids safe.