UPDATE: Mother left child in car before shift at Big Bend Hospice, TPD says

At the end of her shift, the mother found her child still in the vehicle and unresponsive.
Published: Jul. 19, 2022 at 5:07 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 19, 2022 at 7:04 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A morning that started like any other day, ended in a tragedy.

Tallahassee Police released new details on what happened leading up to the tragedy of the 11-month-old’s death.

TPD says the little boy’s mother “inadvertently” left him in the car while at work and found him “unresponsive” after her shift.

TPD is in the preliminary stages of the investigation and waiting for the results of an autopsy on the infant.

“When she walked out and finished her shift, she did discover that she had left her child in the vehicle and they immediately called 911,” said Heather Merritt, Assistant Director of Communications TPD. “When officers arrived they noticed unfortunately that the child was deceased.”

Paige Stewart with Safe Kids Big Bend says a parked car can become dangerous in a matter of minutes, especially for kids.

“Being in a vehicle for any certain amount of time will take anyone’s temperature up by any number of degrees and for children, their bodies heat up by 3 to 5 times faster than adults,” Stewart said.

She recommends parents leave reminders: putting a purse, cell phone or something you’ll need in the backseat.

A message echoed by daycare providers.

Growing room in Tallahassee sends reminders to parents twice a year about safety.

“Paying attention, making sure you’re not on your phone, listening distracted, make sure the radio isn’t too loud, remember your baby is in the car, head to toe care, and we have that information that goes out in September and we have our parents sign off if they acknowledged it and we do it again in April,” said C.O.O. of Growing Room Child Development Centers Lisa Owens.

The center also uses a parent engagement app to communicate about the child if they’re late or missing from class.

“Back before we started using an app years ago, they didn’t have as much communication. They would call maybe and tell us if they were running late but they probably wouldn’t have as many communications if we didn’t have the technology that allows us to go back and forth with one another in the busy lives that we have,” Owens said.

Experts say a change in daily routine, stress, fatigue and distraction can be contributing factors, leading to a parent’s worst nightmare.

“Heartbreaking news. I feel for the family and anybody who ever had to go through that. I’d say hug your babies tonight and just be very mindful of what you’re doing.”

TPD says once the investigation is complete, the findings will be presented to the state attorney’s office for a decision on potential changes.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - An 11-month-old child was found dead inside of a parked vehicle in Tallahassee Tuesday afternoon, according to the Tallahassee Police Department.

Police were conducting a death investigation after officers responded to a call from Big Bend Hospice on the 1700 block of Mahan Center Boulevard at 2:17 p.m. Tuesday. The call was placed by a worker at Big Bend Hospice, TPD confirmed to WCTV.

“The child was left in a parked vehicle for an extended period of time and sadly succumbed to his injuries,” TPD said Tuesday.

TPD said Wednesday the child’s mother arrived for work at Big Bend Hospice Tuesday morning and inadvertently left her son in the vehicle when she parked in the lot. At the end of her shift, the mother found her child still in the vehicle and unresponsive.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

No arrests have been made at this point, and TPD says the investigation is continuing. The department says an autopsy and toxicology report will be performed on the boy to find the exact cause of death.

“At the conclusion of the investigation, detectives will present their findings to the State Attorney’s Office for a decision on potential charges,” TPD’s press release says.

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