HOUSTON --Houston police say a three-year-old walked out of his family's home, got into the car in the front yard through the front door and climbed into the back seat. The child safety lock was on the back door, and he couldn't get out.
"He was a beautiful baby, a beautiful kid," says Efrain Lopez. "We had great times together all the time. I'm the grandfather. I travel for work and when I come back here a lot of times we just play around. All the kids, we wrestle just like normal kids do."
Efrain Lopez's grandson, Evan Trapolino, was found in the back seat of that Volkswagen Passat Thursday afternoon at his family's north Houston home. Family members called 911 and tried CPR.
"I just seen when they were bringing the baby outside in the bed of the ambulance," says their neighbor Marlene Gonzales.
He was taken to LBJ Hospital and pronounced dead a short time later. Houston police say his family believes he may have gone into the car to get a toy. The family noticed he was missing after about 30 to 45 minutes.
"It wasn't nothing intentionally done," explains long-time neighbor Robenia Brooks.
Brooks says she's known Evan's mom since she was a toddler. She tells Eyewitness News his mom recently found out she had stage four breast cancer.
"You're fighting death, and then your child dies too? Man that's hard," she says.
Brooks says she hopes the people who see what happened to little Evan take a step back before they judge: "This is a whole lot for the family, and no one should judge them until they know them. They're some good people."
Police say this appears to have been a tragic accident. At this point, no charges have been filed.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has extended a Heat Advisory for Harris County and the Greater Houston Area to 7pm Saturday, June 18.
6 Tips to Prevent Hot Car Deaths
1. Place your cell phone, briefcase, purse or other important item in the backseat before driving to your destination. This will get you in the routine of checking the backseat every day.
2. Establish a peace-of-mind plan. When you drop off your child, make a habit of calling or texting all other caregivers, so all of you know where your child is at all times.
3. Thirty percent of the deaths in the U.S. have occurred when a child climbed into an unlocked vehicle. Before getting out of the car, check to be sure everyone is out and lock all doors.
4. Communicate planned absences with daycare providers. Ask them to call you if your child does not arrive on time, and they have not heard from you.
5. Educate your children about not playing in and around vehicles.
6. If you see a child alone in a car, dial 911 immediately.
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