10-month-old dies after being left in hot car in Macclenny; criminal investigation underway

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 10-month-old girl is dead after the Baker County Sheriff’s Office said she was left in a hot car in Macclenny on Wednesday afternoon.

The sheriff’s office said it’s not clear how long the child was in the car but it is investigating and charges are expected to be filed.

The child was found in a car on Estates Street around 1 p.m. when temperatures were in the mid-90s.

No other details were immediately available.

Woman arrested after baby in her care dies after being left in hot car for 5 hours, BCSO says

MACCLENNY, Fla. — Rhonda Jewell was arrested for aggravated manslaughter after a child in her care died after being left inside a 133-degree car on Wednesday, the Baker County Sheriff’s Office said.

According to Jewell’s BCSO arrest report, Jewell picked up the 10-month-old baby girl around 8 a.m. to babysit.

The report said that Jewell, 46, has been babysitting the baby since June. She said she picked the baby girl up from her home and then drove to Burger King, but the line was too long then drove off.

Jewell then went to another home in Macclenny where she babysits three other children.

In the report, she told deputies she assumed the baby was asleep, so she went inside the house and started interacting with the other kids. Then she told deputies she forgot the child was in the car.

She told BCSO she was going to return to the car to get the baby, but forgot.

At around 1 p.m., the mother of the baby girl arrived and saw her child inside the hot car not breathing and also had blue lips. She called 911 and the baby was taken to Ed Fraser Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

When deputies arrived, the child was on the seat of a golf cart in the garage, the report said.

Jewell’s arrest report said one of the detectives touched the baby’s skin and it was very hot to the touch and asked medical staff to take the baby’s temperature.

The medical staff said the internal temperature was 110 degrees but they said 110 degrees was the highest the thermometer could read. The external temperature of the baby’s body was 102 degrees. There were no other trauma marks on the infant.

Jewell was placed under arrest. She made her first court appearance on Thursday morning and BCSO said her bond was set at $25,000 with GPS monitoring upon release.

Sheriff Scotty Rhoden released the following statement about the incident on the BCSO Facebook page:

“Dear Citizens of Baker County,

“As Sheriff, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the magnitude of the tragedy felt throughout our county yesterday. At approximately 1:00 PM, the Baker County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call that no law enforcement office ever wants to receive. As the events after that phone call unfolded, our department had to work a case that was tragic and deserved privacy. We did not release a statement due to the nature of the tragedy and respect for the victim’s family and our entire community. It is protocol that when we make an arrest, we post the information on social media. Before doing so, we needed to take some time yesterday as a department to think about the impact this incident would have on everyone in our community.

“Florida’s public records law obligates agencies to provide copies of public records. Our commitment to serve Baker County includes offering dignity and compassion to our citizens while upholding our obligations. Therefore, while we chose to maintain the privacy of this matter in respect of the grieving family, we are obligated to answer media requests for information. Several news outlets released information about yesterday’s tragedy. As the Sheriff of a small community, posting the details of this tragedy is very hard for me. The facts of the tragedy are below, but I am asking my community to respect the privacy of the victim’s family and to please join me in prayer for the family and everyone involved. Each of us are given the gift of life every morning we wake up and every evening when we finish our day, we are blessed if our family is safe and healthy. In the blink of an eye, our world can be turned upside down. Please be mindful of this when trying to understand the tragedy that took place in our small town yesterday.

“Sheriff Scotty Rhoden”

Official Arrest Statement:
Defendant: Rhonda C. Jewell (46)
Charges: Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child
At approximately 8:00 AM on Wednesday morning, Rhonda Jewell picked up a 10-month-old infant from the child’s mother’s residence in north Macclenny. Rhonda has been the infant’s babysitter on occasions since June of this year. Rhonda drove to another residence in south Macclenny where she was going to babysit other children as well. Rhonda arrived and went into the residence, leaving the infant in the vehicle. It wasn’t until the mother of the infant arrived around 1:00 PM to pick up the infant that Rhonda realized the infant was left in the vehicle. The infant was transported to Fraser Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced deceased. Rhonda Jewell was subsequently arrested and delivered to the Baker County Detention Center. Rhonda Jewell had an initial appearance this morning. Her bond was set at $25,000 with GPS monitoring upon release.

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“Any time there’s a loss of a child, it’s just a very tragic event no matter if it’s by natural means or by accident or by some other means,” he said.