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Florida woman arrested for aggravated manslaughter after child dies in hot car

The infant was left in a hot car authorities registered as having been over 133 degrees.

A Florida babysitter has been arrested for aggravated manslaughter of a 10-month-old who died in her care after being left in a hot car.

On July 19, police rushed to the scene of a Macclenny, Florida, residence after a 10-month-old girl was left inside a non-running vehicle for at least five hours. Police arrested 46-year-old Rhonda Jewell, a resident of the area who was first hired by the little girl’s mother in June to look after her.

According to an arrest report from the Baker County Sheriff’s Office, on the morning of the death, Jewell picked up the infant from her home and drove to another residence in the area where she planned to look after three additional children. Speaking to the police, Jewell said that upon arrival, she “assumed” that the little girl had fallen asleep and went inside to look after the other children.

Hours later, at around 1 p.m., the infant’s mother arrived to pick up her daughter and found that the girl was still strapped in a car seat inside of the hot car. The report describes the little girl as being found without marks or trauma to her body and that the mother said she discovered her not breathing and with blue lips.

The outside temperature on the day was 98 degrees. The police report states that Baker County Fire and Rescue got a reading of over 133 degrees inside the vehicle where the child was found.

Responding deputies discovered the infant inside the garage and began life-saving measures until rescue personnel arrived to take the infant to Ed Fraser Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

The other children were found to be safe inside the home.

Jewell was subsequently arrested and taken to the Baker County Detention Center.

Sheriff Scotty Rhoden of the Baker County Sheriff’s Office shared the news and details of the incident in a post on Facebook and described the circumstances of the tragedy as “very hard” for him.

“The facts of the tragedy are below, but I am asking my community to respect the privacy of the victim’s family and to please join me in prayer for the family and everyone involved,” his statement reads. “Each of us are given the gift of life every morning we wake up, and every evening when we finish our day, we are blessed if our family is safe and healthy. In the blink of an eye, our world can be turned upside down. Please be mindful of this when trying to understand the tragedy that took place in our small town yesterday.”

The little girl’s death marks the 14th time a child in the United States has died in a hot car this year and the sixth death of a child in Florida, according to information provided by Elijah Mercer, a research, data and analytics manager at KidsAndCars.org.