SPRINGDALE The Washington County coroner says he believes the deaths of two young siblings found in the trunk of their family car was accidental, but that authorities are awaiting a final determination.
Washington County Coroner Roger Morris said Tuesday that he sent the bodies to the state medical examiner's office in Little Rock, but that he's inclined to believe the deaths were accidental.
"At this time, I feel like it is," Morris said. "Any time something like this happens, it's just tragic. These things are hard to deal with. I feel sorry for the family and everybody who's involved."
Morris said he involved the medical examiner's office as a precaution and was waiting to hear back before determining a cause of death.
The children were reported missing at 4:35 p.m. Monday, and police found the 5-year-old boy and 4-year-old girl in the trunk about a half-hour later. Names of the children have not been released.
Springdale police said the children's mother had last seen them at 3:50 p.m. Authorities searched the house and the surrounding area for 35 minutes before finding the children in the closed trunk.
Springdale police Sgt. Shane Pegram told Fayetteville television station KFSM that the deaths could have been an accident.
"There's a strong possibility that the kids may have very well just been outside, and found a way into the trunk, closed it on themselves, playing a game, but we want to be very thorough in our investigation," Pegram said.
"We're going to have detectives out (Tuesday) in the neighborhood, going door to door, speaking with neighbors, with other children, just to make sure our investigation is thorough, and we don't want to rule out anything at this point," he said.
Pegram said it was too early to tell if foul play was involved. He also said the deaths are an example of the tragedy that can result if a child is left in a hot car. Pegram said parents should not let children play in vehicles, especially on a hot summer day.
Medical personnel declared the children dead at the scene.