Girl who just turned 1 dies after being left in hot car at Dallas school; mom arrested

Staff Writer

Updated: 17 May 2013 11:24 PM

One day after her first birthday, a toddler died Friday after being left in a hot car at the Dallas ISD elementary school where her mother works as a teacher.

Victoria Marks was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. An autopsy will determine the cause of death.

The child’s mother, Vibha Marks of Balch Springs, was arrested on a charge of second-degree felony child abandonment. She was being held in the Dallas County Jail.

Marks, who turned 42 on Friday, has been placed on administrative leave from her job as a teacher at Frank Guzick Elementary School in the 5000 block of Berridge Lane in the Buckner Terrace community, officials said.

The events that led to Marks’ arrest began when Exenia Gomez, a Skyline High School senior, discovered the child about 1:20 p.m. Friday. Gomez had arrived at the elementary school, where she interns several days a week as a first-grade teacher’s aide.

“I looked over and saw that there was a baby in there,” Gomez said. “I looked at the baby and she wasn’t moving. She had dried bubbles on her face and her eyes were still looking down.”

The toddler, wearing bright floral shorts and a pink top, was strapped in her car seat in the back of the locked black car. Gomez could tell by the toddler’s coloring that something was terribly wrong. She also wasn’t breathing.

Gomez called 911.

A 911 operator told her to remove the child from the car and asked that she perform CPR until rescue workers arrived. Gomez grabbed a piece of lumber from the back of her truck and knocked out a car window. She pulled the child from the vehicle and started CPR.

“I actually held her and saw her face,” Gomez said. “It was horrible just seeing that.”

Dallas Fire-Rescue paramedics took the toddler to Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, but it was too late.

Temperatures around the time Victoria was found had reached 86 degrees, but it was hotter inside the locked car, Gomez said.

Lucy Gomez, her mother, said that when her daughter arrived back home, she gave her a hug and tried to console her.

“She said, ‘Mom, I tried,’” Lucy Gomez said.

DISD officials said in a prepared statement that Marks had recently started working at the school. District records show that she has worked for DISD since January 2010.

According to her online blogger profile, Marks has worked as a food writer, nutritionist and obesity consultant and has taught hotel management. She has a master’s degree in nutrition and food management from a university in the United Kingdom, the profile said.

“It’s a girl,” Victoria’s father wrote on his Facebook page on May 16, 2012. She weighed just over 6 pounds at birth. A photo at the time of her birth shows her swaddled in a blanket and wearing a knitted pink and blue hat.

A more recent photo shows the toddler with a pink bow in her brown hair. Her father noted with the photo that she would soon be celebrating her first birthday.

School officials sent parents a letter about the child’s death and said grief counselors would be available at the school Monday.

“Obviously, this is a very tragic situation,” a district statement said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the teacher and her family at this time, as well as the staff at Guzick Elementary.”