Double Tragedy Could Await Car-Death Family

After a four-month-old dies in a hot car, the father who left him there could go to jail

BART investigators questioned BART riders in the East Bay town of El Cerrito today, looking for anyone who might have seen the father who allegedly left his baby in his parked car while he boarded a train.

The coroner performed an autopsy on the baby today, but didn't release the results. The Contra Costa County D.A. will then be left with a difficult decision; will the office prosecute the father.

That's a decision District Attorney Dan Nishigaya knows all too well "These cases present very challenging dynamics," said Nishigaya. "We understand the family is distraught.."

He filed charges against Brian Gilbert in 2001, a father who left his five-month-old child in a car while he went into a relative's home to play video games.

A jury convicted Gilbert of involuntary manslaughter.

"When someone is entrusted with the life of a child, they have the obligation to uphold that responsibility responsibly," said Nishigaya.

San Francisco State University professor, Jan Null, says the El Cerrito tragedy is the sixth such case in the U.S. this year alone. And Michael Border, a supervisor with the South Bay division of the A.M.R. says it only takes roughly 10 to 15 minutes before a child begins suffering from a medical illness inside a hot car.

Bordner said, "Inside the car can get upwards to 150 degrees at times, and above."

Nishigaya says he gets roughly 12 to 15 reports on his desk every year of people who leave their babies in the car.

Sometimes he prosecutes while sometimes he doesn't file charges.

The Gilbert case is the last deadly case to cross his desk. He made a difficult decision in 2001. Now he waits to see if Contra Costa County will put another father in jail.

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