Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Colorado Toddlers Left in SUV Die — of Heat Exposure in January

William and Tyler Jensen

William and Tyler Jensen

Police in Mesa County Colorado are investigating the strange case of two toddlers who died of hyperthermia when they were left in their mother’s SUV for 90 minutes with the heat on.

Winter weather in Colorado being what it is, you might expect reports of careless parents leaving their kids to die of hypothermia in the car. Death by overheating would seem to be a summer phenomenon. At least that’s what mother Heather Jensen thought on November 27, 2012, when she took her sons to the Powderhorn Ski Resort to play. Afterwards she left William Jensen, 2, and his brother Tyler, 4, in her SUV with the engine running and the heat on while she spoke to a male friend in his car for 90 minutes. Jensen returned to the car and started to drive off when she realized that one of the children was not breathing. Paramedics called to the scene were unable to revive William. Tyler died at Children’s Hospital days later. The boys’ father died in a car accident in Rifle, Colo., one month earlier.

Investigators expected the deaths to have been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, but the coroner confirmed that the boys overheated, which, as unusual as it sounds, is not unheard of. Police reported the incident as an accidental death, but now prosecutors are trying to determine if neglect was involved, and whether or not charges against Jensen are warranted.

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