Chantel Brink
Chantel Brink
July 5, 2024 ·  5 min read

Baby Girl Dies After Being Left in Hot Car Just Two Months After She Was Adopted By a San Diego Couple

A heartbreaking incident has unfolded in Santee, San Diego, where a baby girl lost her life after being left in the back of a hot car. This tragic event occurred just two months after her adoptive parents brought her home. Is hot car death common?

Discovery and Emergency Response Into The Hot Car Death – An Ongoing Investigation

Two-month-old baby girl Diana Sofia De Los Santos, pictured with her father Romer, died after being left in the back of a hot car
Image Credit: Instagram

Diana Sofia Aleman Roman, the infant victim, was found unresponsive in the SUV parked outside her family’s home around 12:20 AM on June 13. The child had been left in the vehicle for several hours in 63°F weather before a family member discovered her and immediately called 911.

Despite being rushed to Sharp Grossmont Hospital, Diana could not be saved. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Office is actively investigating the circumstances that led to Diana being forgotten in the car and determining who was responsible. As of now, no charges have been filed.

Read More: Mom Goes to School & Doesn’t Find Her Daughter, Girl Returns Home at Night with Baby in Her Arms — a Short Story

The Dangers of Hot Cars – a Tragic Hot Car Death

Prevent hot car death -  - The couple live in a three-bedroom house that has so many animals it is 'basically a zoo' with three cats, two dogs, chickens, fish, and a flock of parakeets
Image Credit: Google

Studies highlight the rapid rise in temperature inside a parked car. On a 70°F day, the temperature inside a car can soar to 104°F within just half an hour. Reaching 115°F in an hour. The human body’s organs begin to shut down at 107°F, making such environments lethal, especially for children.

Adoption and Family Background – A Loving Family

Her other father Jayson De Los Santon cradles her in hospital on the day the couple adopted her
Image Credit: Facebook

Diana was welcomed into the home of Romer and Jayson De Los Santos on April 11, after they traveled to Arizona to meet her in the hospital. Heartwarming photos captured the couple cradling Diana and introducing her to their two-year-old son, who was also adopted. Romer expressed his grief after the hot car death, writing, “I haven’t slept in days,” next to one of the photos.

The De Los Santos family had been actively seeking to adopt a second child, sharing their adoption profile on social media in November. They expressed their desire to provide a loving home filled with cherished memories. Special moments such as beach outings, biking to the park, and raising foster kittens. Romer, a senior consultant at Jama Software, and Jayson, a stay-at-home dad, have been together for over 20 years. They married in 2008 during a brief period when same-sex marriage was legal in California. Their home is described as a “zoo,” housing numerous pets including cats, dogs, chickens, and parakeets.

Community Reaction

Adorable photos showed them cradling the infant and introducing her to their two-year-old son, who was also adopted
Image Credit: Facebook

Neighbors described the De Los Santos family as kind and attentive parents often seen playing outside with their children. One neighbor said, “They seem like a nice family who wanted to give a couple of kids a good life. It’s just a shame it didn’t turn out that way.” It seems many suggested that the hot car death wasn’t intentional.

Medical Examination and Broader Context

Prevent hot car death -  - The SUV that Diana was left inside for several hours out the front of the home in Santee, San Diego, on June 13
Image Credit: NBC7

The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office will determine the cause and manner of Diana’s death. Annually, around 37 children die from being left in hot cars across the U.S. Since 1998, California has witnessed at least 56 such fatalities, according to statistics from San Jose State University’s No Heat Stroke project.

Read More: Siblings Recover Together After Surviving Car Crash That Killed Their Parents And Baby Sister

Diana lies in her crib surrounded by soft toys and a mobile while her big brother looks on
Image Credit: Facebook

Parents are urged never to leave their children alone in vehicles, even for short periods. Temperatures can rise dangerously fast, posing severe risks to children who cannot regulate their body temperatures as efficiently as adults. Which can effectively cause hot car death. California law imposes a $100 fine for leaving a child under six in a car under hazardous conditions. With potential charges ranging from neglect to manslaughter depending on the outcome.

Experts explain that it’s possible for any parent to forget a child in a car, especially when distracted or following routine habits. The increase in such cases since the 1990s is partly attributed to the recommendation of placing child car seats in the back, out of sight to protect them from airbags.

Recommendations for Prevention

Prevent hot car death -  - A photo of a one year old baby sitting in his car safety seat.
Image Credit: Unsplash

To avoid such tragedies, No Heat Stroke suggests placing a soft toy in the front seat as a reminder of the child in the back or placing essential items next to the child’s seat. They also recommend keeping vehicles locked at all times and teaching children never to play in cars.

The loss of Diana Sofia Aleman Roman serves as a stark reminder of the dangers associated with leaving children unattended in vehicles and the importance of vigilant parenting practices. Hot-car tragedies can happen to anyone due to human memory lapses.

Here are key strategies to prevent these incidents:

Prevent hot car death - maroon Herschel bag inside car
Image Credit: Unsplash
  • Create Safeguards: Establish agreements with child-care providers to notify each other if a child is absent or late. Set phone reminders to ensure the child has been dropped off.
  • Secure Vehicles: Always keep vehicles locked and keys out of children’s reach.
  • Visual Reminders: Place the child’s items, such as a diaper bag or jacket, in the front seat as a reminder.
  • Back-Seat Checks: Keep essential items like your backpack or briefcase in the back seat to prompt a check before leaving the car.
  • Never Leave Children Unattended: Never leave a child alone in a vehicle, regardless of the outside temperature.

Technological Solutions & Expert Advice:

Nothing is better than knowing your little one is safe and sound. Discover how SensorSafe,
the smart safety technology, can help prevent critical situations in the car.
Image Credit: Cybex

Invest in car seats or vehicles with integrated reminder technology, such as SensorSafe. Systems that default to “on” are most effective. Use education and technology together to prevent these tragedies. Real-life experiences, like that of Jennifer Stockburger, highlight the importance of these precautions. Combining awareness with practical strategies and technology can protect children from hot-car incidents.

Read More: The dangerous summer stroller mistake most parents make

Sources

  1. Baby girl who died from being left in the back of a hot car ‘for hours’ in San Diego – just two months after being adopted by local gay coupleMail Online. Nic White. June 25, 2024.
  2. Infant who died after being left in car for 9 hours identifiedFox 5. Anna Ashcraft. June 24, 2024.
  3. Be Careful: Research Shows That Anyone Could Forget a Kid in a Hot CarConsumer Reports. Emily A. Thomas, PhD. April 25, 2024.