GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (CBS4) – The mother of a toddler who died in a car this week near a Colorado ski resort told police she left the boy and his brother alone in the SUV while it was running for an hour and a half, according to court documents obtained by a Grand Junction newspaper.
The children were found Tuesday night in a Toyota 4-Runner near the Powderhorn ski area. Tyler, 4, was taken to a hospital in Grand Junction and then airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Denver. He was listed as being in critical condition on Wednesday.
The exact nature of how Tyler was injured haven’t been released, but it’s thought carbon monoxide poisoning played a role. Autopsy results also haven’t been released so far in the death of his brother William, 2.
The Daily Sentinel reports that police records show their mother, Heather Jensen, 24, of Palisade, told a Mesa County sheriff’s investigator she was in the car of a man while the children were in the SUV alone. She was also apparently the one who called 911 to report that the boys were in trouble.
The newspaper also reported that Jensen first told police she was outside the vehicle for only 10 minutes but then changed her story.
The incident happened inside a vehicle parked on the side of Powderhorn Road, just off Highway 65 at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. That is near the entrance to Powderhorn Ski Resort, which isn’t open for the season yet.
Jensen posted photos of the boys on her Facebook page hours after making the 911 call, saying “I miss my boys.”
The Mesa County Sheriff’s office so far hasn’t released a report to media in the case. They are calling it only a death investigation.
The Sentinel also reported that police searched Jensen’s vehicle and that an investigator wrote in that search warrant that there was probable cause to believe a crime of child abuse resulting in death had been committed.
CBS4’s request to view the same court documents the Sentinel was provided access to was rejected.
“How is this not considered a criminal investigation if a child has died?” CBS4’s Jeff Todd asked Mesa County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Heather Benjamin.
“Well it may get to that. It just depends on the coroner’s results and where that goes into our investigation,” Benjamin said. “Child abuse cases typically aren’t black or white.”
The autopsy on William is expected to provide additional information in the case. It could take two months or longer for the autopsy report to be released.
“An illness, something like that, that wasn’t discovered or wasn’t obvious on scene, compared to comparing evidence on scene or evidence gathered through the course of the investigation that may turn it into a criminal investigation,” said Benjamin.
The newspaper also reported that Jensen’s 26-year-old husband Eric died in an accident in October.