The more details that emerge from the death of William Jensen, age two, and the hospitalization of his four-year-old brother Tyler, the more disturbing the story becomes. According to an affidavit, investigators believe there's probable cause to charge the boys' mother, Heather Jensen, with neglect -- for allegedly leaving them in a running vehicle for ninety minutes while she met with a man.
The most thorough account of the incident to date comes from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, which notes that Heather, a resident of Palisade, on Colorado's Western Slope, called authorities at 6:31 p.m. on Tuesday to report that William was unconscious and Tyler suffered from labored breathing that caused him to sputter as he tried to take in air.
Emergency personnel rushed to help, but they were too late to save William, who was pronounced dead at the scene. For his part, Tyler was still alive, but barely. He was initially rushed to Saint Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction before being transferred to Children's Hospital in Denver. The most recent report lists him in critical condition. According to a search warrant cited by the Sentinel, Heather initially told Mesa County Sheriff's Office deputies that she'd traveled with the kids to the Powderhorn ski resort, approximately a half-hour's drive from Palisade, and allowed the pair to play in the snow there. Afterward, she said she put them in their car seats and revved up her vehicle, a Toyota 4Runner. She then stepped outside to smoke a cigarette, at which point she was engaged in conversation by a friend who drove by. Ten minutes or so passed, at which point she climbed into the SUV and started for home, only to be stopped short by the sound of Tyler's gurgling.
She reacted by pulling over and checking on the boys -- and when she learned William wasn't breathing at all, she dialed 911. The operator sent out the alert, then instructed her on performing CPR -- but to no avail.
Later that evening, however, Heather is said to have changed key aspects of the tale.
Continue to read more about the death of two-year-old William Jensen. Heather reportedly told Sheriff's Department reps that she'd arranged to meet what's described as a "male friend" at Powderhorn. After the kids played in the snow, she returned them to their car seats, started up the engine and then joined the friend in his truck, parked next to the 4Runner -- and she said she stayed there for an hour and a half, not the ten minutes she'd earlier estimated, before getting back into her own car and learning what had happened to the boys in the interim.
The sheriff's department subsequently impounded the 4Runner, which will be checked to determine if carbon monoxide from the running engine may have filtered into the passenger compartment; William's cause of death has not been announced at this writing.
Meanwhile, additional scrutiny is being placed on Heather, whose husband, 26 year old Eric Jensen, died after his Acura was struck by a Jeep on Garfield County Road 319, early on October 10.
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The relationship between the pair appears to have been a troubled one before this tragedy. At the time of William's death, Heather was on probation for a domestic violence incident in which Eric was the reported victim. Court records noted by the Sentinel reveal that on March 13, Eric said Heather punched and bit him during an argument allegedly prompted by time he'd spent with a woman "she receives medicine from." The medicine reference appears to have been to Vicodin and Percocet.
Look below to see a larger version of the William and Tyler photo above, followed by a CBS4 report about the tragedy.
More from our News archive: "Erin Maison-Everhart: Negligent child abuse charge in two year old's Oxycodone death."