Twin 15-month-old girls died on Thursday after being left inside a car for hours in Carroll County, Georgia, police confirm.
11 Alive News reports that the incident occurred at a Carroll County duplex, located off of Tillman Drive, during afternoon hours. The babies were left inside an SUV with its windows closed during 90-degree weather for several hours. According to investigators, the twins were rushed to a hospital but died from heat stroke.
When authorities arrived, neighbors, along with the twins’ father, had both babies in a child pool, trying to cool them off. Neighbors were rushing over with ice, according to Carrollton Police Captain Chris Dobbs.
“There were some individuals holding the infants in a pool and actually had some ice packs also…What they said attempting to cool the kids off (sic).”
The twins’ mother was in Atlanta at the time, at Grady Hospital, getting a medical check-up after she was involved in a car accident. She came back to the duplex after someone called her and told her what happened. The father, father, 24-year-old Alex North, was at home with the babies. He now faces two felony counts of manslaughter and a reckless conduct charge.
Neighbor Regina Cleveland expressed her hopes that it was only an accident and recalled how hot it was when the babies were found.
“It’s sad. Because I have grandchildren and I can’t even imagine my grandkids leaving me – and especially under those conditions… it was so hot today.”
Investigators are currently questioning the father to determine exactly what happened. The story is still developing.
The twin girls’ deaths marks the 25th and 26th deaths due to child vehicular heatstroke in 2016 alone. The Department of Meteorology & Climate Science at San Jose State University reports that the most recent death prior to the twins occurred on July 31 in Abilene, Kansas, when an 18-month-old girl was found dead inside a car in front of the family home.
According to Dickinson County Sheriff Gareth Hoffman, the toddler, Olivia Ann Engstrom, was playing outside with her siblings when she somehow locked herself in the car.
“This particular child somehow got shut up in the vehicle while the kids were out playing. We’re not sure how long the child was in the car. She was last seen at about 2 p.m.”
So far, no one has been charged with foul play in the Kansas incident, and Hoffman stated that the parents indicated that Olivia was capable of crawling into the car on her own, but only if the doors were already open. She couldn’t close or open the doors on her own.
In June, CNN reported that close to three times as many children have already died while being left in hot cars this year when compared to the same amount of deaths at the same time last year. It most often occurs when parents or caregivers have a sudden change in routine, according National Safety Council program manager, Amy Artuso. She also stated that the results this year have surprised her, given that the rates last year seemed to indicate child car deaths due to heat stroke were declining.
“This year, it was quite a surprise to have that many deaths by this date. I guess we were optimistic because of last year.”
Meanwhile, the alarming amount of deaths sends a stark reminder to parents and caregivers to slow down, especially when feeling rushed and overwhelmed, and make sure children are accounted for at all times. Although there are 30 states that still do not have any laws regarding leaving children alone in cars, experts agree that it should never be done “because the consequences can be deadly.”
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