A Miami police officer’s wife died on Friday after getting trapped inside her husband’s patrol car. The vehicle was parked outside their house in the Miami Shores neighborhood. Details are still murky.
The Miami Herald reports that 56-year-old Clara Paulino for some reason got in the backseat of her husband’s police issued SUV and could not get out. There is speculation that she might have been searching for something in the vehicle.
The door probably closed behind her by accident while she was in the SUV. She then became trapped inside by the door’s latching mechanism. The police vehicle safety feature prevents prevents the door from being opened from the inside.
The Herald reported a solid partition between the seats may have prevented her from reaching the front seats and the car horn. She did not have a cell phone or any way of communicating her predicament.
“It’s literally a cage,” a fellow Miami police officer reported.
Officer Aristides Paulino and the couple’s son found Clara’s body later that afternoon around 5:30 p.m. She had been trapped in the sweltering car for over four hours. Temperatures that day were over 90 degrees.
“It’s a very unfortunate situation,” said Daphne Steward, a neighbor. “I guess everybody’s trying to figure out but I say, for me…at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter to me. My friend, my neighbor is gone and I’m sure it was horrifying for her and horrifying for her family.”
The woman’s fingerprints were found inside the Ford Explorer, the Miami Herald reported.
“Clearly, she was panicked and trying to get out,” a law-enforcement source told the paper. The Miami police officer’s wife died a horrific death as the heat from the locked car would have slowly shut down her organs.
The Herald reports that officer Paulino likely had finished his shift and returned home late that morning. He may have left the patrol SUV unlocked.