NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. — A Florida mother is facing neglect charges in the wake of her toddler being treated for heat exhaustion Tuesday after he was left inside a hot car.
Nassau County (Fla.) Sheriff Bill Leeper said that the mother, identified as 25-year-old Michelle King, left the child in a hot car after dropping her husband off at work early Tuesday morning. She took three children with her — male and female 18-month-old twins and a 6-year-old boy. When King returned home, she allegedly forgot the male twin in the car and went back to sleep.
The 6-year-old eventually went to the car around 10:30 a.m. to get something and found the young child inside. The 6-year-old told the mother and she called 911, Leeper said.
The 18-month-old boy was taken to the hospital with a 103 degree temperature and treated for heat exhaustion. He is now in stable condition, Leeper said.
The Florida Department of Children and Families is looking into the incident.
"We are investigating and we're working with law enforcement to gather additional information," said John Harrell, who is with the agency's northeast region. "There's so many questions we have right now."
This incident comes on the heels of a South Carolina toddler days after being found in a hot car and the case of a Georgia father charged with murder in the hot car death of his 22-month-old son.
Fifteen children in the U.S. have already died this year due to car-related heat strokes, as of July 6. Statistics show 606 children have died due to vehicular heat strokes from 1998- 2013.
"About 52% are being left by accident, meaning they're forgotten, a parent that thinks that they've gotten the child out of the car," said Jessica Winberry, a community health educator with Wolfson Children's Hospital.
Winberry said parents forgetting their kids in the car is a year-round problem.
"We do see more deaths in these hotter months but don't be lulled into the idea that it can't happen in cooler months. We do see our first deaths happening in 70 degree weather," she said.
Children overheat 3 to 5 times faster than adults and by the time the body reaches 107 degrees, organs start shutting down.
"Your child should never be left alone in the car not even for a minute. What you think may be a minute may turn into 5, may turn into 10, may turn into longer, so the goal is never ever leave your child alone," Winberry said.