DA’s Office will not charge a Los Gatos man who accidentally left his infant son in car
SANTA CLARA COUNTY – After a careful review, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office stated it would not charge a Los Gatos man who accidentally left his infant son in the rear seat of his car while he was at work. The young child, identified as Giovanni Alonzo Hernandez, died of heat stroke as a result.
“Like most parents, I know how fatigue can sometimes rob us of common sense and good judgment,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. “While we have prosecuted child endangerment cases in the past, this tragedy does not rise to the level of recklessness that both the law and justice require.”
According to the DA’s Office, the man was extremely fatigued and mistakenly believed that he had dropped off his 9-month-old at the babysitter’s home on his way to work.
In order to bring charges against the father, identified only by his last name Hernandez, prosecutors would have needed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed an aggravated, flagrantly negligent or reckless act rather than one resulting from inattention or mistaken judgment. The DA’s investigative review of this case concluded this tragedy was not caused by the negligence of a reckless parent but rather was an error by a normally conscientious, exhausted father.
The investigation began on Wednesday April 16, 2014, when Hernandez began dropping off his three children at 8 a.m. On Wednesdays he usually only brought his two older children to school, but that morning he was planning to drop off the infant at the babysitter’s home because of his wife’s new, early morning job. As his infant son slept in the backseat, the father dropped off his older children. However, he had forgotten that his infant was in a car seat in the back. He parked his car on the street at 9:00 a.m. and then set off in his work truck. When he had finished work at 6:30 p.m., he and a co-worker went to go start the car, he discovered the baby in the back seat.
The child’s father called 911 and tried to provide CPR until medical personnel arrived. San Jose Fire personnel declared the child dead at 7:24 p.m. The cause of death was hyperthermia (heatstroke.) The father was cooperative with law enforcement’s investigation and was extremely distraught and remorseful.
The report concludes: “After careful consideration of the facts surrounding this incident and the applicable law, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has determined that filing charges against Hernandez would not be in the interests of justice.”
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office considered charging him under California Penal Code sections 192(b) [Involuntary Manslaughter] and 273a (a) [Child Endangerment]. Both of these crimes require the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Hernandez committed an aggravated, flagrantly negligent or reckless act rather than one resulting from inattention or mistaken judgment. This tragic death was not caused by a reckless parent. In this case, a sudden change in routine left a normally responsible father exhausted. He didn’t commit a crime; he made a terrible mistake. After careful consideration of the facts surrounding this incident and the applicable law, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has determined that filing charges against Mr. Hernandez would not be in the interests of justice.