Toddler dies in hot car in Lake City

First Coast News, news source 7:09 p.m. EDT May 12, 2015

LAKE CITY, Fla. -- A 16-month-old child died Tuesday after being left in a hot car in Lake City, according to the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office says the Florida Department of Law enforcement is now conducting an investigation into the incident, but have not named who is being targeted.

CCSO says it responded to 111 SW Stafford Court to investigate the infant's death after it received a 911 call just after 3 p.m. The caller allegedly told the 911 operator the child had been inside a car and was no longer breathing.

When fire rescue arrived, they found the child dead.

CCSO issued this statement Tuesday night:

Due to the victim having relatives that routinely interact with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, Sheriff Mark Hunter requested that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement assume the investigation. FDLE agreed to conduct the investigation which is active and on-going and did not identify any people involved.

No other information was released.

This is a developing story. We will update this story when we learn more.

Parents of Lake City toddler found dead in car identified as assistant public defender, assistant state attorney

By Dan Scanlan Wed, May 13, 2015 @ 9:12 am | updated Wed, May 13, 2015 @ 7:32 pm

The parents of a 16-month-old child found dead Tuesday afternoon after she was left in a car in Lake City are an assistant state attorney and a public defender in Columbia County, according to state officials investigating the death.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating how the daughter of Young Kwon, a public defender, and Wendy Timonera Kwon, an assistant state attorney at the Lake City office, was left in a hot car to die.

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office handed the case over to FDLE because of the relationship it has with the parents and their respective organizations.

The state agency confirmed the identities of the parents Wednesday afternoon after Public Defender Blair Payne identified them that morning and called the death of the child a “horrible, horrible situation.”

“Young and Wendy are both wonderful parents, absolutely wonderful, and my heart goes out to both of them,” Payne said. “They are good people.”

Deputies were sent to the home in the 100 block of Southwest Stafford Court just before 3:15 p.m. after Sheriff’s Office dispatchers received a 911 call stating that a toddler had been in a car and was no longer breathing. Deputies arrived with paramedics and found the toddler dead, the Sheriff’s Office reports.

Initial information given to deputies at the scene indicated that the child’s father forgot to take her to day care that morning and did not discover her until he returned home Tuesday afternoon, according to FDLE.

Temperatures were in the low 90s about 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Lake City Municipal Airport, according to the National Weather Service.

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Murray Smith had no more information on the case, including possible charges, saying the state is handling it. FDLE also would not discuss possible neglect charges.

Area law enforcement investigated at least three incidents of children being left in hot cars during one week last July, the sixth local instance as of that point last year, according to state officials.

That was a “very dangerous trend,” Florida Department of Children and Families spokesman John Harrell said at the time. He said 600 children died nationwide from 1999 to 2014 after being left in hot cars, which is why his office investigates each local one and pushed to get the message out to parents to save their children from injury and death in a hot vehicles.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a car can heat up 20 degrees in 10 minutes when left in the sun. Even if it is a chilly 60 degrees outside, a car’s interior can get up to a sweltering 110 degrees in minutes. A child’s body temperature can rise up to five times faster than an adult’s, leading to heatstroke, then death when his or her temperature reaches 107 degrees.

Experts say children and pets should never be left in a parked car unattended, even if the windows are partially open. Parents also should put their cellphones down when children are on board to avoid being distracted.