An 8-month-old boy, found dead in a Walmart parking lot, was identified as Jayce Markell Benjamin. On Wednesday, the infant was found unresponsive inside a sport utility vehicle at a Walmart store in Macedonia, Ohio. Authorities believe Jayce was left alone inside the vehicle for approximately nine hours.
On the morning of September 23, an unidentified relative drove four children to a local daycare center. Although he took three of the children inside, he evidently forgot Jayce was in the car.
The man then returned to his Garfield Heights home and went inside. Three hours later, the children’s grandmother used the same vehicle to go to work at the Macedonia Walmart. Unfortunately, the infant was still strapped into his seat — in the back of the SUV.
Several hours later, the grandmother received a frantic call from Jayce’s mom — as he did not return home from daycare. The grandmother immediately went outside to check her vehicle.
According to reports, the 8-month-old boy was found dead in the Walmart parking lot at 5:30 p.m. As reported by Cleveland, the infant was “in his car seat in the third row of the SUV.”
— 13WHAM (@13WHAM) September 24, 2015
Authorities are unclear how the infant was forgotten inside the vehicle. However, the investigation is ongoing.
In an interview with Fox 8, Macedonia police Lt. Vince Yakopovic confirmed that an autopsy will be performed on Thursday. Although he does not suspect 8-month-old was intentionally left in the Walmart parking lot, there are several unanswered questions.
“There are a lot of things taken into account with this today… Based on how long the child had been there, and where the vehicle is parked. It wasn’t always parked in this lot. It was parked in a shaded area earlier.”
Authorities confirmed no charges were filed at this time. However, they underlined the fact that their investigation is not complete.
As reported by Kids and Cars, nearly 40 infants and children die inside hot cars every year. The 8-month-old who died in the Walmart parking lot was the 23rd child vehicular heat stroke death this year.
Although the deaths of these children were preventable, they are rarely intentional. Kids and Cars President Janette Fennell said an estimated 10 percent of parents are found criminally responsible in child vehicular heat stroke death. However, a vast majority are determined to be accidental.
“The other 90 percent of people, in most cases, are the most fabulous, doting, caring parents that have every safety device imaginable to man.”
In many cases, the children are in the back seat — strapped in a rear-facing car seat. According to Fennell, children are often forgotten inside cars when parents deviate from their usual routine.
The circumstances of the death of the 8-month-old in the Walmart parking lot are still unclear. However, authorities believe it was simply a “tragic accident.”
[Image via Shutterstock]