LA JOYA, Texas (ValleyCentral) – Police and school administrators in La Joya continue to investigate the tragedy of a 5-year-old student who died in a burning car at Dr. Americo Paredes Elementary School.
The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department received an emergency call about an unresponsive child in a car at school around 4 a.m. Thursday afternoon.
School nurses and medical staff performed CPR on the child, but were unsuccessful.
La Joya ISD confirmed the vehicle where the five-year-old belonged to a school employee. The child was also related to the staff member.
Temperatures in the area on Thursday were around 100 degrees.
Dr. Asim Zmir, chief pediatrician at Valley Baptist in Brownsville, said safe care is important in hot weather because the interior of a car heats up quickly.
“Every year we have fatalities, if the temperature outside is 90, 95 or 99, we put a thermometer inside the car, and we noticed it jumped up to 140. So imagine 140 degrees or more, you will be very burned or exhausted, and dehydrated and pass out,” Dr Zamir said.
While car safety applies to everyone, Dr Zamir said children under five are the most vulnerable.
“Adults have six 40% to 60% water in the body. Babies have 60 to 80%. So when they get dehydrated, they pass out immediately. They have trouble breathing, then they get oxygen the brain and they pass out immediately,” Dr. Zamir said.
At a press conference, La Joya Superintendent Gisela Saenz expressed her condolences to the child’s family and said she would offer guidance to staff and students.
“This was an isolated incident. We are supporting our students and staff with additional counseling services. We will continue to monitor our students and staff at Perennis Elementary,” said
The La Joya Police Department, Sheriff’s Office, and Child and Protective Services are investigating the child’s death.