Children left home alone die in fire; parents arrested
William Hermann and Karina Bland
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 14, 2006 04:00 PM
Police on Friday arrested a Phoenix couple for leaving their 9-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son home alone, where the youngsters died from apparent smoke inhalation after a fire smoldered inside the family apartment overnight.
Police spokesman Detective Tony Morales said that Antonio Jorge Mejia, 27, and his wife Maria Cruz Sanchez-Mejia, 28, were each booked on counts of negligent homicide, child abuse and child neglect.
"This was an extremely difficult decision for everyone involved in the arrest,'' Morales said. "A young couple was trying to make an honest living and were out working. But the bottom line is, you can't leave children alone at home like they did, and had done so several times before in recent weeks.''
The parents came back to their home about 3 a.m., after leaving some four hours earlier to their jobs of cleaning offices, and found their children, Luz and Pablo, unconscious. The couple scooped them up and drove them to Phoenix Children's Hospital, authorities said.
The two youngsters likely died from smoke inhalation, authorities said.
The fire apparently did not go undetected. Phoenix police said a neighbor heard a smoke alarm go off in the apartment building where the children were, smelled smoke and knocked on the door of the house in front of the apartment.
For whatever reason, "there was no 911 call, no sort of notification that we know of," Morales said. Speaking at the scene of the fire, at 16th Avenue and Thomas Road, Morales called the incident "one of the saddest stories I've had to report; there is nothing good in this for anyone.''
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For whatever reason, "there was no 911 call, no sort of notification that we know of," Morales said. Speaking at the scene of the fire, at 16th Avenue and Thomas Road, Morales called the incident "one of the saddest stories I've had to report; there is nothing good in this for anyone.''If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)
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