A 16-month-old toddler died Tuesday in Lake City, Florida, after her father left her in a hot car, police said Wednesday.
The death underscores the danger of hot cars as Florida enters the summer months. According to a videotaped report from WTLV News (shown below), “vehicular heatstroke” is the leading non-crash killer of children under the age of 14 in the United States. Almost 75 percent of those deaths involve children under the age of 2, the report indicates.
The Associated Press reports Columbia County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a 911 call Tuesday afternoon at the home of Young Kwon, an assistant public defender. Kwon’s wife, Wendy Kwon, is an assistant state attorney. Both are employees of Florida’s 3rd Judicial Circuit
According to a news release from the Sheriff’s Office, an unidentified caller stated the young girl had been left in the car and was no longer breathing. The news release indicates the 16-month-old was deceased by the time deputies and emergency personnel arrived.
“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,” the release reads.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement representatives told the AP that the father said he discovered the child in the car when he returned home from work in the afternoon and realized he had forgotten to drop the girl off at her daycare that morning.
The parents of the girl have not been available for comment.
Blair Payne, the elected public defender for the 3rd Judicial Circuit, spoke with the New York Daily News and said that what happened to the girl “was the most horrible thing you could think of.”
The Kwons, he said, are both good parents and Young Kwon routinely brought his three children to the office.
"He and Wendy's whole life revolved around their children," he said.
According to The Florida Times-Union, the Lake City Municipal Airport recorded temperatures in the low 90s on Tuesday.
The FDLE's investigation is ongoing.
Photo Credit: FCN via WTLV News, Screen shot from YouTube