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Moorhead infant's death remains under investigation

Cars are parked in front of a building in Moorhead, Minn., where a 5-month-old girl died Tuesday June 11, 2013, after she was left in a car seat in a van while her father was taking care of five other children under the age of 7. Police say the child died after being left in the van for about four hours. (Dave Wallis/The Forum)

MOORHEAD -- Andrew Sandstrom dropped his wife off at work Tuesday afternoon and shortly after, returned to the family's apartment in Moorhead. He had a platoon of six children with him, all under the age of 7.

Everyone trooped into the residence.

Everyone, that is, except little Christiana.

The 5-month-old was strapped in her car seat in the family's van.

The van windows were completely closed, and temperatures that afternoon were around 80 degrees.

About four hours later, at 8:22 p.m., Sandstrom found his daughter and called 911.

But it was too late, according to Moorhead police, who said the girl was pronounced dead after officers and other emergency workers were unable to revive her.

Sandstrom, 24, and his wife, Shayna, 27, were inconsolable Tuesday night, according to Moorhead police Lt. Tory Jacobson.

"Clearly, this is a loved little girl. It's incredibly tragic," Jacobson said.

Police believe the death was an accident, but an investigation into the incident is ongoing, he said. Once the investigation is complete, police will forward reports to Clay County, Minn., prosecutors to review.

The infant was taken to Ramsey County, Minn., for an autopsy, according to a shift summary report released by the Moorhead Police Department.

The family's other five children were in foster care Wednesday after police removed them from the apartment at 1103 19th St. S. The police shift summary described the apartment as having "extreme filth" that was "unsafe for the other children."

Jacobson declined to discuss details of the shift summary, other than to say Clay County Social Services was addressing whatever issues needed attention.

Father's past

It was not the first time Andrew Sandstrom has been in the news.

In 2004, Sandstrom was a 15-year-old sophomore at Moorhead High School when he was struck by a train while riding his bike.

His injuries included a crushed femur, two damaged kidneys and a badly cut right foot, according to a story in The Forum newspaper's archives.

His mother, Ruth Umber, was quoted in the story as stating that her son was a good-hearted, respectful kid who hugged family members so tight they couldn't breathe.

Reached by phone Wednesday evening at her daughter's home in Kentucky, Umber said her son's severe injuries suffered in the train accident did not include brain damage.

"He's a good father," she said. "He's got six kids and he takes care of them."