California News

Madera teen trapped in car died of heat stroke - autopsy

Friday, September 13, 2013
Graciela Martinez, 14, is shown in an undated file photo.

Graciela Martinez, 14, is shown in an undated file photo. (KABC Photo)

Authorities in California's Central Valley are investigating the mysterious death of a 14-year-old girl found inside a car in the parking lot of a Madera high school.

Graciela Martinez was found unresponsive by her two siblings inside the 1997 BMW at the end of the school day on Wednesday. They rushed her to the hospital but it was too late. Early autopsy results indicate the girl likely died from "environmental hyperthermia," or heat stroke, reports ABC News Fresno affiliate KFSN-TV.

The girl's brother, Oscar Martinez, says the three drove to school together that morning, and that Graciela stayed in the car because her first class didn't start for another hour.

"She must have fallen asleep, and then right after school we found her. My sister found her, she was all dried, white," said Oscar Martinez, crying.

So far, there does not appear to be any sign of a struggle.

After inspecting the car, police say the vehicle may have a feature that prevents the doors from opening from the inside once the car is locked. Investigators also say Graciela may have been unable to honk the horn without a key in the ignition.

KFSN-TV contributed to this report.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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