Toddler dies during February winter storm, Austin police investigating as homicide

Crime

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department is investigating a toddler’s death Monday after it appeared she experienced a medical emergency during the winter storms and died a few days later at the hospital.

Police said at 6:06 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 15, Austin 911 got a call from a resident in the 7000 block of Tonka Lane. That’s in a neighborhood near Burleson Road and McKinney Falls Parkway in southeast Austin. The caller reported a baby, later identified as 2-year-old Isabella Rios, was seizing and struggling to breathe, according to police.

Austin-Travis County EMS and the Austin Fire Department arrived on scene to give care to Rios. She was taken to Dell Children’s Medical Center, where she died three days later on Thursday, Feb. 18 at 4:12 p.m., police said.

Based on information gathered by hospital staff, the APD Child Abuse Unit was called in to investigate on Feb. 16, APD said.

The Travis County Medical Examiner did an autopsy on Feb. 19. Detectives are awaiting the results, APD said, but are considering the death suspicious based on the evidence found so far. They are investigating the death as a homicide.

One neighbor told KXAN most people in the area moved into the new development just in the last year.

“We all kind of know each other,” Katon Claborn said. “We bring our dogs out on the street and we are all kind of friends with each other.”

He said they tried to stick together as a community during the winter storms, checking on their elderly neighbors or families with kids. When he saw lights and sirens a few houses down from his own, Claborn assumed the incident was related to the weather, but he didn’t know the people involved.

“They all have our numbers, so they can contact us if anything happens,” he said. “This was different because nobody had any idea what was going on — so that was the only concerning thing.”

Anyone with information or video of the incident can call the APD Child Abuse Unit at (512) 974-6880 or email the unit at child.abuse@austintexas.gov. You can also use the Crime Stoppers tip line at (512) 472-8477 (TIPS) or the Crime Stoppers app. Information leading to an arrest may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

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