A Warren County mother’s 911 call to say her 15-month-old daughter died in the back of her car while the mom worked included another voice in the background asking “How did this happen?”
Investigators worked Thursday to determine just that and to decide if any charges will be filed.
“I left her in the car. She’s dead,” mother Karen Osorio-Martinez on Wednesday told a 911 operator who tried to get her to initiate CPR on the child after a call at 4:58 p.m. Wednesday.
Fifteen-month-old Sofia Aveiro’s death in her car seat was heat-related, according to the Warren County Coroner’s Office, which performed an autopsy Thursday.
The incident happened in the parking lot of the Procter & Gamble Mason Business Center off Mason-Montgomery Road in southern Warren County — exactly 10 years and about 20 miles away when another southwest Ohio mother did the same.
She was the 34th child to die this year after being left in an overheated car, according to Jessica Saunders, director of the Center for Child Health and Wellness at Dayton Children’s Hospital.
Mason police and Warren County prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation.
But Saunders and Brenda Slaby, the mother of a child who died in her car while she worked as assistant principal of Glen Estes Middle School in Clermont County, said people needed to recognize these deadly incidents as accidents and sympathize with the parents involved.
“I know how busy parents are. This morning, I almost forgot to drop off my child at the school,” Saunders said. “As a community we need to wrap our arms around” parents whose children are in accidents like this.
In Wednesday’s incident, Osorio-Martinez repeatedly told the dispatcher in a quiet tone, “My baby just died.”
Osorio-Martinez is a senior scientist in research and development who started with P&G in 2010, according to P&G and her LinkedIn profile.
Procter & Gamble released a statement from Sofia Aveiro’s family:
“Words cannot express the depth of despair we feel at the loss of our baby girl Sofia. Everyone who had the privilege of knowing Sofia would say that she was truly a blessed child who brought smiles, joy and happiness to everyone. We are grateful for the support of family and friends. We ask for prayers, patience and privacy during this unimaginably difficult time.”
The family could not otherwise be reached, and Mason police referred questions to the prosecutor’s office.
“Mason Police Department reached out to us immediately after receiving the call yesterday,” County Prosecutor David Fornshell said in a text message. “We will not be making any further comment until they have completed their investigation and presented their findings.”
On Wednesday, Doyle Burke, the Warren County Coroner’s Office chief investigator, said, “On appearances, certainly the child left in the car, even though it wasn’t sweltering hot today, it’s obviously going to be hotter in the car. Certainly, a 15-month-old is more susceptible to something like this than an adult. So, that’s the theory we’re working under.”
Saunders said children are three to five times more susceptible to heated cars, which can heat up 19 degrees in 10 minutes. Temperatures inside cars can climb to 200 degrees, and children are unlikely to be saved once their body temperatures climb above 107 degrees, she added.
”It’s never OK to leave your children in a car, even for five minutes,” Saunders said.
According to the National Weather Service in Wilmington, the temperature in the region was near 80 degrees Wednesday.
Burke said he could not recall working a case in Warren County involving the death of a child in a hot car.
“It’s preventable,” he said. “It’s just tragic.”
A run sheet from the incident indicated the child had been left in the car for eight hours.
“It appears to be all day,” Burke said, “… roughly 7:30, 8 a.m. until the dispatch at 5 p.m. The mother of the little girl called 911 upon the discovery.”
In the 911 call, the mother said, “My baby just died. My baby just died.”
“She’s dead. She’s dead,” she continued as the 911 operator continued to urge the mother to try to revive the little girl.
Burke said it was too early in the investigation to reach any determination about why the child was left in the car.
Osorio-Martinez is a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico and Cornell University, according to online information posted by Cornell, and she is a recognized expert in beauty and grooming technology, cell, molecular and developmental biology, according to the ResearchGate web site.
She shares a patent for developing a method of collecting and quantifying melanin in skin, using adhesive, according to a Google patent database.
On Aug. 23, 2007, Slaby said she became “the most hated mother in America” after leaving her toddler in a hot car. She asked the community to show sympathy for Osorio-Martinez.
Slaby left her 2-year-old daughter in her car as the temperature climbed to 100 degrees outside that day in Clermont County’s Union Twp. Slaby later recounted for Oprah Winfrey the painful day her daughter Cecilia died.
Slaby hopes the community will look sympathetically on the mother, she told WCPO.
“My heart breaks for her,” Slaby said. “I would hope the community stands by her and supports her. It’s not being a bad mom. It happens to incredibly loving parents … it happens to incredibly busy, loving parents.”
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WHIO-TV Reporter John Bedell and Staff Writers Chris Stewart and Mark Gokavi contributed to this report.
OHIO HOT CAR DEATHS
Police believe heat-related issues caused the death of the 15-month-old girl who was found dead in a hot car Wednesday in Mason, which would bring to eight the number of such deaths in Ohio since 2008, according to a national website. Authorities say hot-car deaths are preventable.
The deaths, by date, location, name of child and age:
8/23/2017, Mason, Sofia Aveiro 15 mo.;
7/6/2016, Moraine, Camilio Juarez, 3 yr.;
9/23/2015, Macedonia, Jayce Markell Benjamin, 8 mo.;
9/2/2011, Akron, Aaloni McCray, 13 mo.;
8/12/2010, York Twp., Mary McCormick, 3 yr.;
8/12/2010, York Twp., Justina Lyon, 2 yr.;
5/26/2010, Columbus, Maddison Jones, 9 mo.;
8/20/2008, Cincinnati, Jenna Edwards, 11 mo..