Coroner rules death of Grand Junction toddlers left in car accidental

Tyler Jensen, left and William Jensen both died after being left in their mother's running SUV in Grand Junction on Nov. 27, 2012. (Photo: Robert Mathena)

Tyler Jensen, left and William Jensen both died after being left in their mother's running SUV in Grand Junction on Nov. 27, 2012. (Photo: Robert Mathena)

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — The death of two young Grand Junction boys who were left in a running vehicle by their mother has been ruled accidental by the Mesa County Coroner.

The coroner’s office went on to state the boys both died of hyperthermia.

William Jensen, 2, and Tyler Jensen, 4, were discovered unconscious and unresponsive on Nov. 27 in their mother Heather Jensen’s SUV on Powderhorn Road. Heather told police she left the boys inside her running Toyota 4Runner for 90 minutes while she sat in a man’s truck that was parked next to her vehicle.

When she drove away, Heather told police she heard Tyler gurgling. That’s when she stopped and realized William wasn’t breathing and called 911.

Emergency workers speculated the boys were poisoned by carbon monoxide, but the Mesa County Coroner has now ruled that possibility out.

“Both boys’ cause of death was hyperthermia and the manner of death was accident,” the coroner’s officer wrote in a statement. “We will have no further comment at this time.”

Tyler’s step-grandfather Robert Mathena said the 4-year-old had an MRI on Nov. 29 that showed he had severe liver and kidney damage. A medical expert said the gurgling sounds he made trying to breathe could be a sign of fluid in the lungs.

Unlike hypothermia, the condition of having an abnormally low body temperature, hyperthermia is described as the condition of having a body temperature that is greatly above normal.

Police have still not confirmed whether criminal charges will be filed against Heather, but such charges typically are not pursued in deaths that are ruled accidental.


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