A 5-year-old boy has died after being left in a van for more than eight hours outside an Arkansas children’s health clinic, according to reports.
Christopher Gardner Jr. was picked up from his family’s home at 6:40 a.m. Monday to be brought to the Ascent Children’s Health Services, but the little boy never made it off of the van and was found dead in a booster seat at 3:30 p.m., the West Memphis Police Department told WMC-TV.
Christopher had been going to Ascent since he was a year old, having had two heart surgeries in his short life and was at the facility for developmental issues, heartbroken relatives told the television station.
The West Memphis Day Treatment Clinic, Ascent's location in West Memphis, "provides quality outpatient and day treatment services to children and their families that are in need of mental health or developmental care,” the facility says on its website.
On Monday, temperatures reached 80 degrees, but inside the van, temperatures would have felt like 114 degrees after just 30 minutes and ultimately would have hit at least 141 degrees, authorities said.
It’s not clear why Christopher did not, or could not, get off the van, nor is it clear if officials with the clinic checked the van for any remaining children.
WMC-TV reported that sources said that Christopher was signed into the facility, despite never making it inside.
Ascent has not responded to requests for comment by InsideEdition.com.
Police believe the little boy was asleep, but it’s not clear if he never woke up or was perhaps disoriented.
“He was mobile, he was also vocal,” West Memphis Police Capt. Joe Baker told WREG-TV.
A former employee told WMC-TV that vans are typically checked three times after children are taken off, and that when children are in a transportation vehicle, at least two adults are required to be there at all times.
“Something was distracting them to not see him on that van all day," the former employee said.
Police and the Arkansas Department of Human Services are both investigating the incident.
There have been no complaints issued with DHS against the facility.