Twin baby boys have tragically died due to hyperthermia as they were left inside a car parked on the lot of a daycare center in South Carolina. Authorities are still investigating to determine if the death was an accident or a criminal act.
In the late afternoon of September 1, Richland County deputies in the suburb of Blythewood were called to the Sunshine House Early Learning Academy parking lot after one of the parents discovered the babies. The police noticed that the car window was broken, but it was too late to save the boys. The emergency medical services pronounced the 20-month-old toddlers as "dead at the scene."
Coroner Nadia Rutherford said in a press conference that the twin boys were likely left in the car for at least nine hours. Temperatures for Blythewood were around 80 degrees Fahrenheit for most of the day.
Very Distraught Parents
The coroner identified the babies as Bryson and Brayden McDaniel, who were settled down in rear-facing car seats inside the car of one of the parents. They were enrolled at the daycare center, but workers of Sunshine House said that the babies and the vehicle were not in the facility all day.
The police determined that none of the staff members of Sunshine House have been involved in the incident. However, the coroner implied that one of the parents, who doesn't normally do the kids' school drop-off, may have been involved.
The parent placed the babies in their car seats at 7:30 a.m., then drove to another location for the rest of the day. The coroner didn't offer any details on the mom or dad's identities, as well as the second location, since the investigation remains active.
Rutherford also said that the twin boys had been otherwise healthy, well-cared babies and did not have any signs of abuse or trauma. The coroner noticed that the boys' stomachs had no traces of food, compounding the investigators' theories that they were left in the car for hours. Further tests will be underway to rule out any chemical or medical poisoning.
"We have two very distraught parents," the coroner said. "We can't speak to how or why the children were left in the vehicle for so long."
The police have not filed any criminal charges, and the parents have no police records.
Preventing Vehicle Hyperthermia
According to Healthy Children, dozens of kids in the U.S. die due to hyperthermia every year. Outside of car accidents, this is the leading cause of car-related death in children as their bodies heat up faster than adults.
The temperature of a car left under the heat of the sun can quickly rise up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of minutes. If the car's temperature reaches 104 to 107 degrees, it becomes fatally dangerous for the kids. Their organs will start shutting down due to heatstroke.
The American Academy of Pediatrics said that vehicle hyperthermia could be prevented if parents make it a habit to check the back of their car before leaving the parking lot. It might also help to put stuff in the back seat, such as a purse or a briefcase, so parents could reach out for it and check the back as well before locking up.
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