Florida babysitter arrested after infant is found dead in 133-degree car


A Florida babysitter was accused of manslaughter after the 10-month-old in her care died after having been left in a hot car Wednesday, the Baker County Sheriff’s Office said.

Rhonda Jewell, 48, picked up the infant from her mother’s home at 8 a.m. to babysit, and when the mom returned at 1 p.m., they realized the baby had been left inside the vehicle, the sheriff’s office said.

Temperatures in the area were 97 degrees shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

A sheriff’s incident report says the temperature inside the car was recorded at 133 degrees when the child was found, NBC affiliate WTLV of Jacksonville reported.

On an 80-degree day, the temperature in a car can rise to 123 degrees in 60 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There were no extreme heat advisories or warnings Thursday evening in the Baker County area, which is west of Jacksonville. The incident occurred as millions of people across the South and the Southwest remained under a potentially life-threatening heat wave.

More than 119 million people across the U.S., including in parts of Florida, were under heat advisories or excessive heat warnings Thursday evening, according to the National Weather Service.

About 40 children die every year from heatstroke after having been left in or trapped in vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Around 53% of them die when someone forgets a child is in a car, the agency warns. Parents should get into a habit of always checking the back seat before they lock the doors, and everyone should always keep cars locked when they are not being driven, it says.

Jewell was arrested on a charge of aggravated manslaughter of a child, the sheriff’s office said.

The other children she was watching were well cared for, according to the sheriff’s office incident report.

Jewell told investigators that after she arrived home she went inside to interact with the other children and forgot the child was inside the vehicle, the report says.

An attorney listed in online court records as representing Jewell did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday night.


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