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"On average 38 deaths occur each year and in over 55 percent of the cases, the person responsible for the child’s death unknowingly left them in the vehicle, according to the public awareness group."

Calling it a “tragic accident,” the Maricopa County District Attorney’s Office said it will not charge a Gilbert dad in the death of his 3-year-old daughter who was left in a hot car last summer.

Scott Jones, 37, was arrested on Dec. 17, processed and released and facing a negligent homicide charge in the death of Charlotte “Charly” Jones. The toddler had been left for up to three hours in a car seat in a black pick-up truck in the family’s driveway on Sept. 3. 

“The evidence was not sufficient to show reckless behavior, willful neglect, or impairment in the death of this child,” spokeswoman Jennifer Liewer said. “This is a tragic accident and not every accident rises to the level of criminal prosecution.”

“In other cases that have come in front of our office with similar circumstances, we have noticed two common factors and that is stress and a change in routine. Both of these were factors when considering charges in this case,” she added.

The day Charly died, she was supposed to be dropped off at school but her parents had decided to keep her home.

Scott Jones dropped off Charly’s two older sisters at school and went back into the house where he worked from and forgot about her, a neighbor had said at the time of the incident.

By the time first-responders arrived to the Higley Groves West neighborhood at Higley and Elliott roads, temperatures were already reaching into the triple digits.

Charly was transported to a hospital and was later declared deceased. 

She was one of four children who have died in a hot car in Arizona in 2019, according to Kids and Cars.org. The other children were aged 4 months, 18 months and 20 months old, according to the national nonprofit group.

The last death was Samora Cousin. The 4-month-old girl died Oct. 1, after her foster father Roger Ham forgot and left her in a family van.

Phoenix police in November recommended a negligent homicide charge in mid-November and in that case, the county attorney’s office also decided not to charge Ham. 

In another case, where the child’s name was publicized, the Mohave County Attorney’s Office reportedly charged a 23-year-old dad with second-degree murder and felony child abuse after his 20-month-old daughter, Madison Martin, died in a hot car last May.

A prosecutor in a news story noted the amount of recklessness and extreme indifference shown by Martin, who had left his daughter unattended while he visited a friend, who was charged in a subsequent marijuana-grow operation. No trial has yet been set.

Overall for 2019, there were 53 child hot car deaths in the country, according to Kids and Cars.

In 2018, there were 54 such deaths, including two in Arizona, both in Superior. It was the highest year on record for the group since it began tracking the deaths in 1990. 

On average 38 deaths occur each year and in over 55 percent of the cases, the person responsible for the child’s death unknowingly left them in the vehicle, according to the public awareness group.