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Alabama Father Charged With Reckless Murder After Toddler Dies In Hot Car

A 2-year-old boy died in Atmore, Alabama, on Monday after being left unattended in his father's vehicle for eight hours

A 2-year-old boy died in Atmore, Alabama, on Monday after being left unattended in his father’s vehicle for eight hours. This is the first hot car death of the year that has been reported in the United States.

The father, 51-year-old Shawn Rounsavall, was arrested and charged with reckless murder after he allegedly forgot to drop the child off at daycare and left the toddler in the backseat of his car all day.

When Rounsavall went to the daycare center to pick up the child Monday afternoon, daycare workers informed him that the toddler was never dropped off in the morning. Rounsavall then found his child unresponsive in the backseat of his car, The Associated Press reported. According to the Atmore Police Department, Rounsavall rushed the child to a hospital, where the boy was later pronounced dead.

“This is a terrible, terrible tragedy. This community is shocked,” Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks told FOX 10.

Erica Young heads home with daughter Jayden, 6 weeks old, after having her child safety seat properly installed on Sep. 12, 2009. In the United States, More than 1,052 kids have perished in overheated automobiles since 1990. According to Kids and Vehicle Safety, most kids who pass away in hot cars were unintentionally abandoned by a caregiver. TRACY A. WOODWARD/THE WASHINGTON POST/GETTY IMAGES

According to Brooks, the incident was unintentional, but because of the “disregard for the child,” Rounsavall now faces a criminal charge of reckless murder.

Fox 10, citing local investigators, reported that Rounsavall had spent Monday working at his restaurant in the area.

Although most of the country has been dealing with rounds of wintry weather in recent days, the Southeast has been experiencing a surge of warmth. In Atmore, where the toddler died, temperatures have been at least 10 degrees above the historical average since last week.

On Monday, the high temperature in the southern Alabama city reached 83 degrees Fahrenheit, 14 degrees above the historical average for Feb. 28. The temperature inside the car likely reached triple digits within 20 minutes after the air conditioning unit was turned off.

Child hot car deaths from 1990-2021. Numbers include U.S. children aged 14 and under. KIDS AND CAR SAFETY

Alabama ranks 10th in the nation for child hot car deaths by a large margin, with at least 32 such deaths since 1995, According to Kids and Car Safety, a national nonprofit child safety organization. 

Since 1990, more than 1,052 children have died in hot cars. Most children who die in hot cars are unknowingly left by a caregiver, Kids and Car Safety reports.

According to Atmore Police, there won’t be an official cause of death until the autopsy is finished, FOX10 reported. Rounsavall is being held on a $500,000 bond.

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