"As a police family, we have experienced a terrible tragedy," the chief of police in Rome, NY, says of the death of an officer's baby son. Cops say Rome officer Mark Fanfarillo called 911 on Monday afternoon after finding his 4-month-old son dead in his vehicle outside his home in the nearby town of Western. They say Michael Fanfarillo, who was born Feb. 1, had been left in the car for "an extended period of time" by his father, who has been placed on administrative leave while he grieves and the investigation continues, Syracuse.com reports. It isn't clear whether Fanfarillo, a 10-year veteran of the Rome force, was on duty at the time his son died.
A neighbor tells newyorkupstate.com that she saw a distraught Fanfarillo standing in his driveway Monday afternoon as emergency vehicles arrived. "He had his hands on his head and was not in a good way," she says. It isn't clear how long the baby had been left in the vehicle, though a pediatrician tells WKTV that on a hot day, a child trapped in a car could suffer heatstroke and die within just 15 minutes. Her advice for preventing similar tragedies: "Put a stuffed animal in the car seat and whenever you put your kid in the car seat, you take the stuffed animal out and put it in the front so that's like a visual reminder." (Read more child left in hot car stories.)