Child found dead
CLEBURNE — Cleburne police are investigating the death of a 4-year-old girl who was found inside the family's SUV parked in the driveway in front of the family's home.
Officers found Lilly Parsons unresponsive at around 7:20 p.m. Monday outside the home located in the 1200 block of Westlake Road.
The young child was found inside the SUV by Johnson County Sheriff's Office deputies nearly an hour after her parents reported her missing. The deputies said they are investigating how the child ended up in the SUV.
"All we know is it was 102, 104 yesterday and she was inside the vehicle," said Lt. Tim Jones, Johnson County Sheriff's Office.
Investigators said Parsons' parents called them at 6:46 p.m. Monday night and said the 4-year-old had been playing outside their home when she disappeared. Soon after arriving on the scene, a deputy found the child unresponsive inside the vehicle, which had its doors closed and windows sealed.
"You try to think as a parent, 'What can you do?'" said Brent Easdon, a firefighter who lives across the street from the Parsons. "You can't think of everything. There's just no way to think of everything."
The sheriff's department said they are looking into how long the child was in the SUV and how long it took the parents to call for help after she went missing.
"We don't know what occurred here; we are treating it as an accident," Jones said. "We believe it's an accident, but it was tragic."
The exact cause of death is pending the medical examiner's autopsy.
Easdon remembered Parsons as the little girl who rode her tricycle up and down the driveway and left drawings on the mailbox for her parents.
"I would suspect right now they are asking the question, 'Why?'" he said. "That's the question you always ask, 'Why is this happening to me? Why has this happened? Why did this happen to a 4-year-old girl.'"
Cook Children's Hospital says it takes just 20 minutes for a car to get 29 degrees hotter than the outside temperature, and children aren't equipped to respond to potential heat stroke.
"Their body heat increases three to five times faster than ours does as adults," said Terri Ford, Cook Children's Hospital. "So, by the time we're hot, our kids are already passed that."
Cook Children's says this is the 21st child to die in a hot car in the U.S. this year and the sixth in Texas.
Child Protective Services is also involved in the incident as the parents have two other children, who are both fine.