The distraught dad whose young son was left to die in his estranged wife’s roasting hot car does not believe the mother should go to jail for the horrifying, fatal blunder.
Five-year-old Trace Means perished in sweltering 100F Texas heat on Monday after Amanda Means, 36, left him in the back of a Porsche SUV for two to three hours.
Detectives think she simply forgot that Trace was still buckled into his car seat as she headed inside their $1.4million Houston home to throw a birthday party for his eight-year-old sister.
By the time Amanda realized her mistake, the bubbly, blonde-haired youngster – pictured here for the first time in a series of heartbreaking family photos – had succumbed to suspected heat stroke.
The shell-shocked mom has not been hit with charges although the Harris County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating.
DailyMail.com can reveal the five-year-old Texas boy who was left to die in his mom’s sweltering hot car on Monday has been identified as Trace Means, pictured above with his parents Amanda and Steve, and his older sister, 8
Steve, 48, and Amanda Means, 36, were going through a divorce, and their son had spent Father’s Day with his dad and before being dropped off at home several hours before the tragedy
It is believed Trace had still been buckled into his seat inside his mother’s Porsche SUV, when she headed inside their $1.4million Houston home (pictured) to throw a birthday party for his eight-year-old sister
DailyMail.com can reveal that Trace’s parents are going through a divorce and he had spent Father’s Day with his dad before being dropped home several hours before Monday’s tragedy.
Devastated Steve Means, 48, needs answers over his son’s death but he’s not rushing to conclusions or demanding the mom face charges, according to his attorney, Gary Block.
‘Steve is a stand-up guy. He is in tears, he’s beside himself, but the last thing he wants is for Amanda to be criminally punished. She is going through enough already,’ Block explained.
‘He knows that she is their mother, no matter what happened, and that there was nothing done on purpose. All he wants to do right now is make sure his daughter is OK and that everyone can begin to heal.’
Houston has sizzled in triple digit temperatures for most of this week and is expected to record its hottest ever June.
It reached as high as 102F Monday in the northeast of the city, just as Amanda was hosting a birthday party – complete with an inflatable bouncy house and slide – to mark her daughter turning eight.
The busy mom told investigators she came home from the store with her children and thought both of them had climbed out of the car, which was a loaner vehicle rather than her regular Porsche.
It was not until two to three hours later that she noticed the boy was missing and started looking for him, according to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.
An official cause of death is yet to be released. But with the temperature inside the car likely to have exceeded 120F, it’s almost certain the youngster succumbed to heatstroke which sets in at around 104F – and turns deadly at 107F.
Dad Steve, a military veteran and energy industry executive, filed for divorce in January after a decade of marriage, and had moved out of the family home, as the couple began drawing up a joint custody agreement
The dad has been ‘beside himself’ since the tragic accident, but is not demanding the mom face charges, his attorney, Gary Block told DailyMail.com
‘Mom noticed the five-year-old was nowhere to be found and began calling to him with no answer. She frantically ran outside and discovered the five-year-old still buckled in his car seat,’ Gonzalez told FOX 26 Houston.
Gonzalez said the child had been able to unbuckle himself and climb out of his mom’s car in the past but might have struggled with an unfamiliar vehicle.
‘The child apparently had that ability but this is a loaner and we don’t know if that was a factor or maybe the child was asleep and got disorientated with the temperature as hot as it is. We don’t know. That will be part of the investigation,’ Gonzalez added.
Dad Steve, a military veteran and energy industry executive, filed for divorce in January after a decade of marriage and moved out of the five-bed marital home into a new apartment while the pair drew up a joint custody arrangement.
Accountant Amanda was being comforted by family this week following the accident
The divorce documents are sealed but Block insisted there was nothing scandalous or out of the ordinary about the split – it was just two people who fell out of love.
‘There have never been any allegations that Amanda was an unfit mother or that there was any abuse, nothing like that whatsoever,’ he added.
Block said his client spent the weekend with both his kids and had dropped them off with their mother first thing Monday before heading off on a business trip.
He was mid-flight when his son was declared dead by first responders and knew nothing was amiss until he got off his plane and saw numerous missed calls.
‘Steve had to go out of town on business and he literally was just landing in Florida when he got the call from Amanda,’ Block added.
‘At first he thought she was making a joke or being sarcastic. It took a moment for it to sink in that it was real. The poor guy had to get straight back on a plane and come back. All he can repeat is, what do I do now? This is my only son.
‘He told me that when he dropped him off, his son had said to him, “Daddy, you’re my best friend”.
‘It’s hard to imagine anything more heartbreaking. We hope that he was asleep when he died and didn’t suffer.’
Accountant Amanda was being comforted by family this week and her attorney did not return calls for comment. Child Protective Services are also investigating her son’s death, according to reports.
Pictures posted to social media in happier times reveal Amanda and Steve doting over Trace and his older sister as they enjoyed fun activities and trips to the beach.
Cops said the mom had been out running errands for the party with the two kids when they arrived back at the Harris County home, and that the mom and other child left the vehicle and entered the house, leaving the boy behind in triple degree temperatures for three hour
The tragic incident was reported to police at 2 pm. The car was parked outside the family home in a cul-de-sac just outside Houston, on a day where temperatures hit 100 degrees
One touching photo shows martial arts enthusiast Steve, who has grown up children from a previous relationship, training with his adorable young son at a kickboxing class.
Trace was the fifth child to die in the back of a hot car in Texas this year and the third from Houston, including 10-month-old Adalyn Birdow who was left behind in 92F heat last month by her mom.
Nationally, more than 900 children have died from heatstroke in cars since 1998, including 23 children in 2021, according to data from the National Highway Safety Administration.
Experts warn that cars can heat up by 20 degrees in as little as ten minutes even with a window left slightly ajar.
Children and infants are particularly vulnerable because their bodies heat up three to five times faster than those of adults. They’re also less able to adapt to high temperatures.
A spokesman for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said: ‘The investigation is ongoing.’