Texas father arrested for leaving 5 kids in hot car with engine running

Jose Leal
Jose Leal(Arrest photo courtesy Tarrant County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 2:34 PM CDT
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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - A Fort Worth father was arrested for allegedly leaving his five children in a parked car with the engine running on August 7.

Officers said they found Jose Leal, 29, at 8 p.m. in the yard of a home at 3500 block of Littlejohn Ave. They also found the five children, ages 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 in the car nearby.

Several children were either sleeping or passed out when officers pulled them from the car. They immediately placed them inside air conditioned squad cars.

Temperatures topped out at 99 degrees on Sunday. Police didn’t say how long the children were left alone inside the car. And although the car’s engine was running, police didn’t say whether or not the air conditioner was on.

Medstar arrive and determined that the children were suffering from heat exhaustion and needed to go to the hospital. Their condition is currently unknown.

Leal faces five counts of abandonment/endangerment to a child/bodily injury and was transported to jail.

“In temperatures like we’re seeing right now in North Texas, the inside of that vehicle in a matter of minutes can go to 140, 150 degrees, which means that the body temperature of the child inside that car is going to go 104,105 degrees and the child’s vital organs - the brain, the heart, the kidneys cannot function at that level of temperature,” said Matt Zavadsky with MedStar.

Since May 1st, MedStar crews have treated 14 patients found in hot cars within their Tarrant County service area. All were six years old or younger.

“We’ve had kids that have been left in shopping mall parking lots,” Zavadsky said. “We’ve had kids that climbed into an unlocked vehicle and the parents didn’t even know it.”

There’s been a significant uptick in these incidents this year, according to MedStar data.

“We’ve often wondered why there’s been such an increase and we really think that it might just be a there a lot of people that have moved here that aren’t used to this kind of weather, perhaps, and where they came from might not have been as hot,” he said. “Secondly, parents today are very distracted.”

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