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Infant car seat. WJCT News 89.9

Toddler dies in hot car at Jacksonville Beach child care

Published on September 6, 2023 at 10:44 am

A 2-year-old girl was found dead Tuesday inside a vehicle outside the Bethlehem Lutheran Preschool in Jacksonville Beach — the second child to die in a hot car in Northeast Florida in less than two months.

Police received a 911 call Tuesday afternoon reporting an unresponsive toddler inside the van in the parking lot on 8th Avenue North. 

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Officers arrived within minutes, but the toddler was declared dead, Sgt. Tonya Tator said. It is unknown how long the child was in the vehicle on a day when the high temperature hit 89 degrees.

“Please be aware of the heat. It only takes a few minutes for anybody in a car to overheat, and they can pass away from that,” Tator said. “And we encourage everybody to pay attention; make sure that you know where your children are at all times. That way they don’t fall into distress.”

This was the first child death of its kind that Jacksonville Beach police have dealt with this summer, Tator said. It also is the second recent hot car death of a child in Northeast Florida.

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In July, a 46-year-old babysitter was arrested after a 10-month old girl was found dead in a car where the heat had reached 133 degrees, according to the Baker County Sheriff’s Office.

Rhonda Charmane Jewell of Sanderson was charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child after the baby’s mother found her daughter about 1:30 p.m. in Macclenny, an arrest report said.

According to the National Safety Council, 33 hot car deaths involving children were reported nationwide in 2022, with 23 deaths so far this year. The total includes at least six children in Florida this year, the council reported.


author image Reporter, WJCT News 89.9 Dan Scanlan is a veteran journalist with almost 40 years of experience in radio, television, and print reporting. He has worked at various stations in the Northeast and Jacksonville. Prior to joining the WJCT News team, Dan spent 34 years at The Florida Times-Union as a police and current affairs reporter.
author image Reporter, WJCT News 89.9 Dan Scanlan is a veteran journalist with almost 40 years of experience in radio, television, and print reporting. He has worked at various stations in the Northeast and Jacksonville. Prior to joining the WJCT News team, Dan spent 34 years at The Florida Times-Union as a police and current affairs reporter.

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