Mom finds 5-month-old son dead in minivan

Joel Gray
Joel, 5 months, died after he was accidentally left inside of a hot van.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A mother found her five-month-old son dead Tuesday afternoon inside her minivan outside Donelson Heights United Methodist Church in Davidson County.

The discovery was made just before 3 p.m. at the church located on Fairway Drive off Lebanon Pike.

Metro police spokesperson Kris Mumford said Stephanie Gray arrived at the daycare to pick up the child when she was informed by daycare employees that her son, Joel, was never dropped off.

Gray immediately ran outside to her minivan and discovered her baby in his car seat.

The mother took the unresponsive baby into the daycare, where workers performed CPR until paramedics arrived.

“The mother was very distraught,” Mumford said. “She was transported to a local hospital. The father was also taken there to be with his wife.”

The 38-year-old mother told detectives that she dropped off her three older children at school before returning home for the day. She said she never dropped off the infant.

Tuesday was only the boy’s second day at the daycare, police said.

The investigation is ongoing, but Metro police said the infant’s death was heat related.

No charges have been filed.

Donelson Heights has an early childhood program for children age three months to five years old, according to the church’s Web site.

The preschool closes each day at 2:30 p.m.

Lori Finchum is the director of Rhythm and Rhymes Childcare located near the church.

She told Nashville’s News 2 due to children’s changing schedules it can difficult to implement polices to ensure that children arrive at school each day.

“We ask that the parents call us to tell us whether they’re going to be here or not,” Finchum said.

However, once the children do arrive at Rhythm and Rhymes, parents go through a detailed sign in process.

Finchum added that childcare centers in Tennessee require parents to sign in and out everyday.

Joel Gray is the third child to die in Middle Tennessee in less than a week after being left in a hot vehicle.

Last Thursday, Samantha Harper found her two children dead in her car outside her Smyrna home.

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