SAN ANTONIO — The Bexar County Sheriff's Office says a now-former deputy is facing charges for leaving his 2-month-old baby inside a vehicle for about three hours Monday, a day when afternoon highs reached the mid-90s in San Antonio.
Antonio Almaraz, 31, is charged with three felony counts related to the child's injury. He has since been released on bond.
BCSO officials said Almaraz gave conflicting statements, but they were able to determine that he took his baby girl to a morning routine pediatrics appointment before returning home around 10 a.m. There, investigators say, Almaraz turned off his vehicle and went inside, leaving the baby in the car.
At around 1 p.m., it was discovered the young girl had been left inside the car. She was unresponsive and rushed to the hospital, where she remains in critical condition as of early Tuesday afternoon.
Almaraz was issued an order of dismissal due to him still being on probationary status with the department, in accordance with BCSO policy. He was hired by the agency in February of 2023, cannot appeal the dismissal and is not eligible for rehire pending the outcome of the criminal case, according to BCSO.
“Given the amount of awareness in the community regarding leaving children unattended in vehicles, there is absolutely no valid excuse for this to have occurred," Sheriff Javier Salazar said in a statement. "My family and I are praying for the best possibly outcome for this precious baby.”
Family law attorney Joseph Hoelscher noted from his experience dealing with similar cases involving abandoned children, that the parents may have been experiencing cognitive conflict between habit memory and perspective memory.
"What effectively happens is people's subconscious mind, the autopilot that we're all familiar with takes over and prevents people from consciously remembering something that's outside of their routine," Hoelscher said. “The only way to solve this type of problem where people go on autopilot is to have a safety mechanism to alert people that are on autopilot that something’s wrong."
Four children in Texas have died after being left in hot cars since March, according to AAA spokesman Daniel Armbruster.
Nationally, there've been 26 hot car deaths involving youth.
Armbruster stressed parents and guardians should be proactive to prevent potential tragedy.
“You never want to leave a child or a pet unattended for any reason," Armbruster said. "You can leave an item such as maybe a ball or one of the kids’ toys in the front seat so that you see that so it reminds you to look back and retrieve the child.”
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