Sunday, February 18, 2018
Public safety

Left in SUV for hours, Hillsborough toddler in critical condition

TAMPA — It was so hot Tuesday, Sharon Scruggs said, she was about ready to tear her clothes off by 7:30 a.m.

Scruggs, 59, opened the door to her apartment on E 127th Avenue and saw a blue Buick sports utility vehicle parked a few doors down, in front of Apartment 1613A, home of the Rosario family — Alexander Rosario and Douceaymee Lopez-Alvarez, both 26, and their four young children.

Scruggs retreated back inside to wait out what would become a record hot day.

But inside that blue SUV, strapped in a car seat, sat a forgotten 1-year-old, Jadiel Rosario.

He remained in the SUV until about noon Tuesday, when his parents realized they never brought him in after returning home about 4 a.m., according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

Jadiel Rosario was in critical condition Tuesday night in Florida Hospital Tampa, said the Sheriff's Office.

The agency was investigating the circumstances surrounding what Scruggs, a neighbor who says she sometimes sews clothes for the family, thinks must have been a tragic accident.

"That mother is on those kids like the blue on your shirt," Scruggs told a reporter Tuesday evening. "I'm so confused. I have no idea how this happened."

Scruggs heard the commotion about noon when the parents found the child, and said she walked into the family's apartment to see Jadiel, who turns 2 next month, on a chair, non-responsive, his eyes looking to the ceiling as someone tried to revive him.

After Hillsborough County Fire Rescue officials took him to the hospital, his parents gave the following account, according to the Sheriff's Office:

The family, which also includes three daughters ages 8, 7, and 3, came home about 4 a.m. from visiting relatives. The parents took their three daughters inside.

Alexander Rosario thought Lopez-Alvarez brought their son in, too. Lopez-Alvarez thought Rosario had. But neither had.

The parents said they keep late hours and their son usually sleeps until about noon. When they went to check on him after they woke up Tuesday, they realized they had left him in the SUV.

Temperatures reached a record 90 degrees in Tampa on Tuesday, according to Bay News 9 chief meteorologist Mike Clay.

The incident remains under investigation, the Sheriff's Office said. A woman who answered the door to the apartment Tuesday evening declined to comment.

Scruggs said the family has lived in the apartment for less than a year. On their Facebook pages, the parents say they previously lived in Puerto Rico.

The Florida Department of Children and Families has never interacted with the family before, spokeswoman Terri Durdaller said.

Scruggs said the family is quiet and the parents mostly keep to themselves. The only times Scruggs sees the mother, Lopez-Alvarez, outside is when she is watching her children.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Will Hobson can be reached at (813) 226-3400 or [email protected]

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