A four-year-old girl suffocated to death in the back seat of her father’s car after he left her alone in the vehicle for NINE hours.
It is understood that the tragedy happened when her father answered an urgent phone call as he was about to drop her off at nursery school.
The girl – named only as ‘Qi Qi’ – was asleep in the back of the car as she was being driven to Wanyuan Kindergarten in Yiyang, China, just after 8am local time on April 8.
The father, who has been identified by his surname Hu, claims he drove his daughter to school in Heshan District and parked by the gate before answering the phone call from work.
He said he forgot to check whether his daughter had actually got out the back before driving off in a hurry and leaving his vehicle for the entire day in the car park of the vehicle dealership where he works.
He told local media: “I answered the call and forgot to check. I didn’t notice until my wife called me at 5pm asking where our daughter was.”
Hu’s wife had gone to the privately run Wanyuan Kindergarten to fetch Qi Qi, only to be told she had not been at school that day.
“I thought and thought and then finally found her in the back seat in the footwell,” Hu said.
Qi Qi had suffocated to death and was declared dead shortly after being taken to Yiyang Central Hospital.
“They couldn’t save her,” Hu, who is a car salesman, said.
He added: “The school usually calls or sends messages asking why a pupil isn’t there, but why didn’t they contact us this time?”
Asked whether he felt the school should bear 100 percent of the blame, Hu said: “In my opinion, they are more liable. Had they called, I would have noticed sooner.”
Call logs from Hu’s mobile phone showed that he answered a call at 8:46am. However, the conversation lasted all but 12 seconds.
Hu said he believed he may have been distracted by messages on other applications such as instant-messaging service WeChat.
He said: “There are three teachers and only around 10 pupils at the school. How could they not have noticed one pupil missing?”
The Heshan Education Bureau says the school had already reached a settlement with the family – offering them damages in the amount of 32,000 RMB (£3,650).
The bureau said their preliminary findings indicate Hu may not have driven his child to the nursery school at all.
They suggested Hu answered his phone on the way to her school and became distracted, only remember again when his wife called him some nine hours later.
Further investigation is still ongoing.