13-year-old South Carolina girl with special needs dies in hot car

A 13-year-old South Carolina girl with special needs died when her schoolteacher mother and a male companion allegedly left her in a sweltering car for at least two hours, according to authorities and a new report.

Authorities discovered the teen’s body Monday evening when they responded to a call about a child left in a vehicle on Lowcounty Highway, about 60 miles outside of Charleston, the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

She was pronounced dead on scene.

Rita Pangalangan, 49 — who was later determined to be the girl’s mother — and Larry King, 41, were charged with murder, according to authorities and local station WCBD.

The girl was locked in the car for at least two hours, Colleton County Fire-Rescue Chief Barry McRoy told the station.

First responders were on scene within eight minutes of the 911 call — but relatives had already removed the girl from the car by the time they got there, McRoy said.

Her body was lying on the ground next to the car when officials got there, the sheriff’s department said.

Both Pangalangan and King were denied bond Tuesday afternoon, according to the local report.
Pangalangan is an early childhood education teacher with the Colleton County School District, records show.

“Based on this information, the district has placed teacher Rita Pangalangan on administrative leave, with full pay and benefits, effective immediately,” the statement said.

Another daughter of Pangalangan stood behind her mother in bond court, calling her “a good mom,” the station reported.

King’s relationship to the young girl — and her mother — was not immediately clear.