Merced boy dies after drinking caustic cleaner

A 2-year-old Merced boy is dead after consuming a caustic cleaner used on the aluminum wheels of vehicles Friday, the Merced County Sheriff's Department reported.

Authorities are calling the death an accident.

About 3:30 p.m., Jack Shearer was playing at a family friend's automotive services shop in the 1000 block of Childs Avenue in Merced.

Deputy Tom MacKenzie, a Sheriff's Department spokesman, said the boy became thirsty, so his grandmother gave him a bottle found on the floorboard of her husband's truck that she believed contained water.

But the bottle contained the strong cleaning solution, not water, and the child started choking, MacKenzie said.

The grandfather realized the child had ingested the cleaner and called 911 -- but ended up driving the boy to Mercy Medical Center, MacKenzie said.

The child then was transported to Children's Hospital in Madera, where he was pronounced dead.

The Sheriff's Department would not disclose the names of the child's parents Monday.

After interviewing the family, MacKenzie said, detectives believe the death to be nothing more than a tragic accident.

The child will be brought back to Merced so authorities can complete an autopsy and investigation.

No charges are expected to be filed at this time, MacKenzie said.