BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The father of an 8-month-old Louisiana girl who died after being left in a hot car for about two hours was arrested Wednesday, police said.
The Baton Rouge Police Department said in a statement that the suspect, Marvin Mercer, 31, of Zachary, was arrested on a negligent homicide charge. It was unclear whether Mercer had an attorney. Bond information was not immediately available.
Police said Mercer accidentally left his daughter, Raylee Mercer, in a car after he arrived about 9 a.m. at his job at a Baton Rouge school. Sgt. Don Coppola said investigators believe the hot conditions in the car led to the infant's death.
Bob Wagner, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Slidell, said the temperature in Baton Rouge about noon Wednesday was 89 degrees before reaching a high of 93 degrees at the city's airport at 2:55 p.m. Police said temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach about 40 to 50 degrees above the ambient temperature within 60 minutes.
An autopsy on the girl was planned for Thursday. East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Beau Clark didn't immediately release any information about the possible cause or manner of her death.
Mercer told investigators that he was supposed to bring his daughter to day care but instead followed his normal routine and drove to work at Madison Preparatory School.
"Mercer admitted that he forgot that Raylee was in the back seat of his vehicle," investigators said in an affidavit of probable cause. "Mercer parked his vehicle in the parking lot at about 0900 hours and proceeded to work, leaving Raylee strapped in her car seat ... with the doors closed and windows up.
"Mercer went about his day at work and returned to the vehicle at approximately 11:30 during his lunch break. Upon entering the vehicle he heard a 'coughing' noise in the back seat. Mercer realized that Raylee was in the back seat and observed her unresponsive with fluid coming from her nose."
Investigators said he immediately drove to Baton Rouge General Hospital Mid City to seek help for his child. Medical staff began lifesaving procedures to no avail, the affidavit said.
Janette Fennell, founder and president of the Kansas-based group KidsAndCars.Org, said the girl is the 11th child in the U.S. to die this year after being left in a hot car. Fennell said four children had died in hot cars by this same point of last year.
"This can happen to anyone; in most cases, to the best of parents," Fennell said. "No one is immune."
Fennell said the last child to die in a hot car in Louisiana was 22-month-old Angel Green, who was left unattended in an unlicensed day care's van on June 5, 2015. Local media reported that the day care's former owner was indicted in October on a negligent homicide charge. Police said Green had been in the van for at least two hours.
Associated Press writer Chevel Johnson in New Orleans contributed to this report.