Two young children died after being left in a hot car for an entire day last week, according to the Richland County, South Carolina, coroner's office.
The local coroner, Naida Rutherford, confirmed to TODAY that the 20-month-old twin boys likely died from hyperthermia, which is when body temperatures are extremely elevated. She added the coroner's office is waiting on toxicology reports, which can take several weeks, before it will declare an official cause of death.
The twins were identified as Bryson and Brayden McDaniel.
In a press conference last week, Rutherford said the two boys were discovered by one of their parents at the day care center where they were enrolled.
The two are believed to have been left inside their parents’ small SUV in rear-facing child seats for 9 1/2 hours, she said.
Rutherford added the car had not been in the day care parking lot all day, which would’ve been something staff noticed. She said she did not believe the day care center was responsible for the boys' deaths in any way.
“The vehicle came to the facility around … 5:30 p.m. and EMS was dispatched at 17:40, which is 5:40 p.m.,” she explained. Local NBC affiliate WIS footage showed a black SUV being towed away from the scene.
Both parents were “very distraught,” Rutherford said during the press conference.
“We can't speak to how or why the children were left in the vehicle for so long, and again, that's why I stated if this was an unfortunate accident, we pray the family can find peace, but if it was a criminal act, we will help seek justice for these babies,” she said.
“This didn't happen suddenly, and I think that's the part that's most upsetting, is that these children may have suffered some, and that's the part that breaks your heart,” she said.
The Richland County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to TODAY there have been no arrests made in the case and the investigation is still ongoing. The parents have not been publicly identified by law enforcement.
Rutherford told TODAY she hopes other parents will be vigilant about checking the backseat to avoid similar fates.
“We hope that this is an example for parents to just pay attention when they get out of the car to make sure that they actually drop off their children,” she said Monday.