Sumter infant died from being in hot car, preliminary report concludes

The 1-year-old boy who died Wednesday after being found unresponsive at the Swan Lake Iris Gardens apartments died from being in a hot car, the Sumter County Coroner said in a preliminary finding released Thursday.

The official cause of death of Mekhi Rembert was hyperthermia, Coroner Robert Baker said. A final determination won’t be made until toxicology test results come back from the State Law Enforcement Division, he said. That usually takes between five and eight weeks.

In severe hyperthermia, the body’s normal system of regulating body heat – such as sweating – breaks down and cannot handle the heat in the environment.

The high temperature in Sumter Wednesday was reported at Shaw Air Force Base as 91 degrees, Whitney Smith, meteorologist with the Columbia office of the National Weather Service said.

According to San Francisco State University’s Department of Geosciences, after 10 minutes, 90 degrees outside will feel like 109 degrees inside a car. After an hour, that jumps to 133 degrees.

Baker said he could not determine how long the child was left in the hot vehicle; he has gotten conflicting reports.

Police were called to the Sumter apartment complex at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday. They tried to revive the child, Sumter police said in a news release. He was taken to Palmetto Health Tuomey Hospital, where he died.

Police continue to investigate the death and have not released additional information about the case.