Parents charged in death of 13-month-old left in hot car

FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The parents of a 13-month-old baby have been charged with unlawful neglect of a child; the infant passed away in May, several days after being left in a hot car for more than an hour.

Joe and Ruthene Kennedy, of Florence, were arrested by Florence County Sheriff's Office officials on Wednesday, June 9. The pair posted bond and was released a short time after they were booked.

Jeremiah A. Kennedy died of hyperthermia, due to enclosure in a vehicle, according to Coroner Keith Von Lutcken.

The child was left for a period of time in a vehicle on Sunday, May 25.

"On Sunday, a 13-month-old was left in a vehicle for approximately an hour and a half," said Captain Michael Nunn, spokesperson for the Florence County Sheriff's Office.

The child died the following Wednesday, and an autopsy was performed the next day to determine the cause of death was hyperthermia due to enclosure in the vehicle.  Further tests are being conducted before a manner of death is ruled on, Coroner Lutcken stated.

Captain Michael Nunn said once the child's parents realized what happened, the baby was rushed to a local hospital for treatment.

Details about the case are still under investigation, but the case is serving as a real reminder of how deadly a hot car can be.

Safe Kids World Wide said already, this year the United States has seen seven kids die from hyperthermia this year.

Safe Kids World Wide is an organization, dedicated to raising awareness about child death caused by Hyperthermia, also known as heat stroke.

"We are out in the community trying to talk to people about heat stroke. Just be aware, just be proactive," said Ashley Costas, Coordinator for Safe Kids World Wide.

You can find Costas out at places like Walmart and local hospitals.

The goal is to remind parents just how hot the inside of a vehicle can get.

"What we have in here is an actual car seat and the child would be sitting right here, which is exactly where the temperature is reading from," said Costas.

Costas had a couple suggestions on how we can avoid child deaths caused by Hyperthermia in our area.

"Put your cell phone in the back with the baby so that when you go and get out of the car you think where is my cell phone? ... You think with my baby," said Costas.

"If your child has a favorite stuffed animal out the stuffed animal in the front seat by you so it reminds you to look for your child, Always…always…always… look before you lock," said Costas.

Costas said at 104 degrees, organs begin to shut down and it only takes a few moments for the inside of your car to reach those life threatening temperatures.

Heatstroke Info: (stats, charts, PSAs, safety tips, child stories, etc):

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