The wife of a veteran Miami officer has died after she became trapped in his police SUV for hours in the sweltering summer heat, officials told local media on Monday.
Clara Paulino, 56, opened the unlocked back door of the Ford Explorer and climbed in to search for something at their Miami Shores home. Somehow the door closed and the self-locking mechanism engaged.
“It’s literally a cage,” one Miami officer familiar with the vehicle told the Miami Herald.
Miami-Dade detectives found the woman’s fingerprints all over the inside of the vehicle.
“Clearly, she was panicked and trying to get out,” a source told the paper.
Her husband, Aristides Paulino, 58, had returned home from an overnight shift late in the morning and went straight to bed.
Police sources told the paper that Paulino’s wife likely entered the vehicle sometime after 1 p.m. Her body was found by Paulino and one of their sons in the back seat around 5:30 p.m.
“We haven’t even buried her yet, and it’s a lot of pain,” said one of their sons, also named Aristides Paulino.
Investigators are treating her death as accidental.