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Florida Babysitter Arrested After 10-Month-Old Dies In Hot Car

Tragic incident highlights dangers of leaving children unattended in vehicles during heatwaves.

A Florida babysitter was arrested after a 10-month-old girl died Wednesday in a hot car.

Rhonda Jewell, 46, who had been babysitting the toddler along with three other children, was arrested and facing a charge for the aggravated manslaughter of a child, according to an arrest statement by the Baker County’s Sheriff’s Office over Facebook.

Jewell had picked up the toddler and other children from the mother’s residence in north Macclenny, Florida, roughly 30 miles west of Jacksonville, around 8 a.m. EDT before driving them to another residence in south Macclenny where she was going to babysit them. When she arrived, she brought the other children into the residence, but the 10-month-old was left in the vehicle.

The toddler wasn’t discovered until the mother arrived around 1 p.m., local time, and she called the police to tell them that her child wasn’t breathing and her lips were blue, according to the incident report.

First responders took the child to Fraser Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced deceased.

A Florida police officer arrives at the scene of the crime. The Florida babysitter was arrested for manslaughter after leave a 10-month-old baby in the car. COURTESY/ACCUWEATHER.

The temperature inside the vehicle had reached “over 133 degrees, for a period of at least 5 hours,” according to the incident report obtained by First Coast News. Medical personnel said the toddler’s external temperature was recorded at 102.1 degrees while her internal temperature reached 110 degrees, but the thermometer could not read temperatures higher than 11.

Parts of the South, including Macclenny are currently experiencing a heat wave with temperatures upwards of 90 degrees Fahrenheit. On Wednesday, the daily high temperature was 99 degrees Fahrenheit with a low of 73 degrees. A heat advisory was also in place from noon until 5 p.m. EDT, according to the National Weather Service.

This is the 14th child to die in a hot car nationwide and the sixth in Florida this year, according to Kids and Car Safety, a nonprofit organization that works to raise awareness of and prevent vehicle-related accidents.

More than 1,050 children under the age of 14 have died in a hot car nationwide, and at least another 7,300 survived with varying types and severities of injuries, according to Kids and Cars Safety.

About 87% of children who die in hot cars are 3 years old or younger, the majority (56%) of whom were unknowingly left by a parent or caregiver.

Experts have highlighted that cars can heat up within minutes of being closed, and data has shown that 80% of the temperature increase inside a car happens within the first 10 minutes, according to Amber Rollins, director of Kids and Car Safety.

“It’s important for families to understand that it doesn’t have to be 90 degrees outside for a child to suffer from heatstroke inside a vehicle,” said Rollins telling AccuWeather. “We’ve seen children who have died in hot cars on days when the outside temperature was in the 50s or 60s outside, believe it or not, and that’s because a vehicle does act like a greenhouse, so it allows that heat to come in through the windows, traps it inside, and it’s an oven; it heats up very quickly.”

Produced in association with AccuWeather

Edited by and

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