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Lawrence police: Heat may have been factor in death of 2-year-old found in parked car

Police on Monday said heat may have been a factor in the death of a 2-year-old boy found in a parked car Sunday afternoon in south Lawrence.

At a news conference, Lawrence Police Chief Gregory Burns Jr. identified the boy as DéVonté Lashawn Turner and said heat may have contributed to his death, though police were still awaiting the results of an autopsy.

On Sunday, police responded about 5:35 p.m. to the 3300 block of Iowa Street for a report of a 2-year-old child who had been left unattended in a car, according to the Lawrence Police Department.

The location is in a commercial area in south Lawrence. Temperatures in Lawrence on Sunday reached a high of 86 degrees, according to The Weather Channel.

Once at the scene, officers and medical personnel determined the child was dead, police said.

Detectives contacted the family and were investigating the death, according to police.

DéVonté was not with his parents at the time of his death but was in the care of relatives, Burns said. Burns would not say if the child had any injuries and said he did not know how long DéVonté was in the car.

No arrests have been made, Burns said. The death has not been labeled suspicious, he said, and police are carrying out a death investigation.

“As those involved attempt to heal from this loss, our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by this event,” Burns said. “Any time that we lose a citizen of our city, it is very tragic. This tragedy is only compounded when it involves a child.

“This serves as a reminder, to please take extra care when exiting your vehicle,” Burns said. “Especially at this time of year when temperatures are high.”

If DéVonté died from being left in a hot car, he would be the second child to die that way in Kansas this year, after a 3-month-old girl died in Butler County in June, according to the advocacy group KidsandCars.org.

It would be the 32nd such death in the U.S. this year, the group said, adding that eight children have died in hot cars in the U.S. this August.

Kansas ranked No. 28 in the nation for child hot car deaths, with 12 since 2000, group said.

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Glenn E. Rice covers crime, courts and breaking news for The Kansas City Star, where he’s worked since 1988. Rice is a Kansas City native and a graduate of the University of Central Missouri.
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