Boy found dead in hot car remembered as happy kid

Published: Monday, June 24, 2013 1:32 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, June 24, 2013 1:37 p.m. CDT

O'FALLON (AP) — Neighbors remember Nathan as a happy, energetic toddler who could be seen laughing and playing with his 32-year-old father outside their home along Joy Drive in southwest Illinois.

Now the little boy is dead and his father, Wayne M. Hubert, is accused of involuntary manslaughter. Hubert is accused of placing his son in a sweltering hot car then passing out after drinking at their O'Fallon home.

Hubert was released from the St. Clair County Jail on Saturday afternoon after posting a $25,000 bond, which is 10 percent of his $250,000 bail, according to the county sheriff's office.

The complaint says Hubert planned to take a trip. He strapped 23-month-old Nathan into a car seat in vehicle parked in the driveway around 2:30 p.m. Thursday, then went back inside the home, drank some alcohol and passed out, the complaint says. The mother came home about 5 p.m. and the child was found.

Neighbors describe Hubert as a loving father and Nathan as energetic.

"He was out there playing and giggling in the pool," neighbor Craig Gross told The Belleville News-Democrat about the boy. "It's a horrible thing. A little kid like that — it's a crying shame."

The temperature outside was between 85 to 90 degrees Thursday afternoon. When first responders arrived the boy had a body temperature of 104.6 degree, the coroner's office has said. He was pronounced dead just before 6 p.m.

Summer is only just underway, but at least 13 children have already died this year from overheating inside vehicles, according to statistics from the Department of Geosciences at San Francisco State University. At least 32 children died from vehicular heat stroke in 2012, the department's website says,

A telephone message left for Hubert on Sunday was not returned, and there was only a busy signal to multiple calls to the same number on Monday.

A conviction of involuntary manslaughter carries a maximum prison term of 14 years in prison. Hubert also faces a misdemeanor charge for allegedly leaving his 4-year-old daughter unattended inside the family home.

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