RAMSEY, Minn. - A preliminary autopsy indicates that excessive heat likely claimed the life of a Wisconsin toddler found in the trunk of a car Wednesday.
The findings, released Friday afternoon by the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office, says 2-year-old Isaiah Theis died of hyperthermia, which is defined as an elevated body temperature due to failed thermoregulation that occurs when a body produces or absorbs more heat than it dissipates.
The child was found about 10:15 p.m. Wednesday inside the trunk of a car parked outside his father's auto shop in Centuria, Wis. Isaiah was last seen playing with his brother on the family farmstead around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Temperatures during the time the child was missing were in the 90s, with heat indexes near the triple digit mark.
"This is pretty much the worst ending we could have come to," said Polk County Sheriff Pete Johnson. "The only thing worse would have been if we had never found him."
Investigators are still trying to determine how the little boy ended up in the locked trunk.
As family and friends continue to mourn the loss for Isaiah, emergency responders and authorities are coping with the tragedy as well.
"This is just one of the worst things I've ever had to do, and I am the unfortunate one that had to make the notification to the parents," Johnson said. "Unless you've ever been in that position, you can't imagine how uncomfortable and traumatic that is."
The medical examiner who performed the autopsy also found that Isaiah was a normally developed, well-nourished 2-year-old. He had suffered no traumatic injuries or showed no signs of a natural disease and no fractures were found in a full body x-ray.
Results of a toxicology test are still pending. The final autopsy results are expected within a few weeks.
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