Baby dies in hot car while parents attend church, police say

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 4:27 AM CDT
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PALM BAY, Fla. (WESH) - Police in Florida are investigating the death of an 11-month-old baby who was left in a hot car for hours while her parents attended church.

Police got a call around 1 p.m. last Sunday about an unresponsive 11-month-old girl at the Mount of Olives Evangelical Baptist Church in Palm Bay.

When officers arrived, the baby was unresponsive in a vehicle. She was taken to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead, according to a police statement.

Police say the baby had accidentally been left in the car for around three hours while her parents attended church.

“This is an unfortunate incident, and our condolences and prayers go out to the family,” said Palm Bay Police Chief Mario Augello.

The investigation into the incident is ongoing. Police did not say whether they expect to file charges.

Florida is No. 2 in the nation for child hot car deaths, and nationally, about 38 children are lost to hot car deaths each year. So, it’s good for all parents to be reminded of ways to keep their families safe.

“We know that a car can heat up 20 degrees above the outside temperature within 10 minutes,” said Dr. Kevin Campbell of Health First.

So, if it’s 80 degrees outside, after a little more than 10 minutes, children are already in the danger zone.

“If a child gets to be close to 104 degrees, that’s when their temperature can cause problems, and you start to see heat stroke. Above 107 degrees, we see death,” Campbell said.

Even cracking a window does not do much good, according to the Kids and Cars organization.

“The most important thing for people to know is this can happen to absolutely anyone. There’s no norm to it,” said Jeanne Fennell, the president and founder of Kids and Cars.

Family members can help stay safe by putting something in the child’s car seat and moving it to the front when they are in the seat, putting something important in the seat with the child and/or setting it up so daycare will call if the child is not dropped off.

There’s concern that after a dip in hot car deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, this summer might see those numbers rebound.