Metairie child's death, father's arrest a tragedy for all involved, experts say

Metairie child's death, father's arrest a tragedy for all involved, experts say

METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - After a Metairie father was arrested in the hot-car death of his young daughter, both law enforcement and a legal analyst agreed that these cases are among the most difficult for everyone involved.

Sheng Li was booked with negligent homicide after he left his 11-month-old daughter in a hot car for "a long period of time," according to Jefferson Parish Interim Sheriff Joe Lopinto

"We can't say this enough - unfortunately, parents with good intentions make bad mistakes. That's what happened," Lopinto said.

Deputies said Li forgot to drop the child off at daycare Thursday and realized she was still in the backseat as he drove home at the end of the day. Jefferson Parish Coroner Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich said the baby died of heat stroke.

"When you turn your car off - especially in the middle of the summer - and if you ever sit in your car after you've turned it off, it gets hot fast. So that temperature will get up significantly in a very short period of time, so it wouldn't take long for an adult or a child to start having symptoms of heat-related illness," said Cvitanovich.

FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti said of all the cases in criminal law, these are the most horrible.

"Everybody's got their job to do. The police have their job to do, the DA has their job to do and the judge has his job to do. That's the hardest one in cases like this. Facts are not in dispute, you don't have to go find the guy to arrest him, these are just horrible cases, and what to do with this man is the hardest part, and there isn't a right answer," Raspanti said.

Jan Null, a research meteorologist with the group http://noheatstroke.org says this is the second child to die in Louisiana this year after being left in a hot car.

"Give yourself a reminder system," Null said. "Keep a stuffed animal back in the child's seat. When you put the child in that, put (the stuffed animal) up front as a visual reminder for you. Put one of those things we always grab for when we get out of the car - a wallet, a brief case, your cell phone - put it in the backseat so that you are forced to go back there when you get out of the car."

Null said parents should also set up a plan with their child's preschool or daycare. That way, if the child doesn't show up, the daycare can call the parents as soon as possible.

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