FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — Visalia Police continued the investigation into the death of a 3-year-old Visalia girl Friday. Officers said she was left in a car in triple-digit heat, while her mother 28-year-old Eustajia Mojica was tending to a pot grow.
It happened on the 100 block of West Perez Avenue.
“Now it’s just… It’s troubling to see what sneaks up in your neighborhood,” said a neighbor who did not want to be identified.
He said he is a lifelong resident and father of a 9-year-old boy. He said he was not home at the time police arrived, but later read the news a toddler died just down the street from him after being left in a car in triple digit temperatures.
“It was heartbreaking. As a parent myself, I couldn’t let my child stay in a hot car. I know what it’s like here in the Valley,” he said.
The toddler, identified as Jessica Campos, was allegedly left in the car by Mojica in front of her sister’s home which housed an illegal pot grow.
Officers said Mojica was tending the grow for roughly three hours while Campos sat in the car with the windows up.
“That part of the investigation is still ongoing as to the reasons why the child was left behind. We just want to put out there it’s starting to get hot. It’s going to be over 100 degrees every day the temperature inside a closed-up vehicle is going to get way hotter than that,” Sgt. Mike Verissimo with the Visalia Police Department said.
He said they were originally alerted by family members who found Campos not breathing and tried to revive her. Medics rushed her to Kaweah Health Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.
Officers found four other children ranging from 9 months old to 15 years old in the home. They have all been taken into child welfare services.
They also seized a large amount of narcotic.
“There was around 150 plants that were growing in the backyard, they weighed the processed marijuana today and it was 475 pounds,” Verissimo said.
Mojica and four other adults, identified as Araceli Mojica, Emmanuel Ortiz-Aguilar, Valentin Ortiz, and Victor Corona, were taken into custody. All the suspects face child endangerment charges, with Mojica also booked for involuntary man slaughter.
The neighbor said in his opinion, any sentence she’s facing has already begun.
“As a parent, I think she’s already punished enough. You know, you can punish them with the law, but as a parent, you just lost a life,” he said.
In addition to the charges the suspects already face, police are also recommending drug charges be filed by the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office.