Las Vegas, NV – A baby girl locked inside a hot car accidentally died on Monday after her father refused to allow the police or his brother to smash the windows.
Artavia Wilson told KLAS that her son, 27-year-old Sidney Deal, had gone to pick up his phone from a girlfriend’s house at about 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 5 when he accidentally locked his keys inside his running car in a driveway.
His one-year-old daughter – Sayah Deal – was alone inside the vehicle, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Wilson said the girlfriend had refused to return Deal’s phone so when he returned to the car and found it locked, he waved down a passing police car and asked for help getting into his car.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) report on the incident said that officers offered to break the vehicle’s window or call a locksmith to assist in getting into the vehicle, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
It was about 95 degrees in Las Vegas that afternoon and Deal assured officers that the air conditioning was running inside the vehicle.
Deal told police that he just needed to call his brother for help, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
When Deal’s brother arrived on the scene, he tried to take immediate action to rescue his one-year-old niece.
“He immediately took his shirt off, wrapped it around his knuckles and was ready to punch the window,” the police report read. “Sidney stopped him and said he wanted to wait for a tow truck. Sidney insisted he not damage his new vehicle, stating he had just bought the car and did not have the money to repair a broken window.”
The police report also said that Deal’s girlfriend told officers she’d been on hold with a locksmith for 23 minutes but that Deal had told her not to get him to come because it was too expensive, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Officers finally smashed the window an hour later, but by then it was too late.
The air conditioning in Deal’s car was not on and the arrest report said the toddler had been dead so long that rigor mortis had set in, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
The arrest report said that Deal told detectives he thought his daughter had stopped moving because she was asleep.
“The dad said that the A/C was on and the kid was playing, and when the officers arrived, they saw that she was breathing” LVMPD Spokesman Larry Hadfield said. “But when the officers got concerned for the child’s well-being, they broke the window.”
Neighbor Sheila Ratliff watched the entire event unfold and told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that officers had asked her for a coat hanger to try to pop Deal’s lock.
Ratliff said police were trying to help Deal get into the vehicle for two hours before they finally broke a window.
Police arrested Deal at the scene on felony child abuse charges, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Deal’s mother, who said she is a doctor, called the charges against her son ridiculous and said he is a responsible adult who has had full custody of his baby girl since she turned four months old, KLAS reported.
She said Deal had called her for help when he locked his keys in the car and she was on her way there when they finally smashed the window and found Sayah dead.
Darius Jones, Deal’s next door neighbor, agreed with the mother’s assessment of the tragedy, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
“I honestly believe it was a tragic accident,” Jones said. “I can genuinely say that since that baby was small, he’s loved on her. I’ve never seen a bad time when he had that little girl in his possession.”
The Clark County coroner has not yet ruled on Sayah’s cause of death and it is not known exactly how long the toddler was locked inside the hot car, KCPQ reported.