Mother Notices 4-Year-Old Son Was Missing, Finds Him Unresponsive in Hot Car

May 24, 2019 Updated: May 24, 2019

A 4-year-old boy has died after he was found in a hot car at a home in Richland County, South Carolina—the first hot-car death in the state this year, according to the coroner’s office.

In a news conference on May 24, sheriff Leon Lott and coroner Gary Watts warned parents about the dangers of leaving children unattended in cars, after Zion Akinrefon of Maryland died at a Midland hospital two days before, due to complications of probable hyperthermia, reported WIS news.

“These kinds of incidents tug at my heartstrings,” Lott said.

Authorities responded to a call at a home in Blythewood on May 22 after Zion was found unresponsive. The 4-year-old was visiting family members in South Carolina when his mother noticed her son had gone missing.

After a search, the mother found Zion in the back seat of the family’s car.

After deputies arrived, EMS began performing CPR on the 4-year-old before he was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

According to the news station, the family said Zion was watching television at the time of his disappearance. They believe he wandered outside by himself through the side door and made his way to the family’s SUV, which was unlocked at the time.

After gaining access into the vehicle, he became trapped after he locked himself in from the inside. He then fainted due to heatstroke, reported WIS news.

“My deepest sympathies are with the family of this innocent child,” Lott added.

Authorities also added that although 54 percent of hot car cases happen when children are forgotten by a caregiver, they added that 26 percent of these types of deaths occur when the child gains access to an unlocked vehicle, the news station reported.

The sheriff’s department said at this time no charges have been filed for this case so far.

In a similar case, a mother made a devastating discovery after sending her 5-month-old child to a daycare facility in Florida on May 22.

Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office told The First Coast News that on Wednesday the mother called Ewing’s Love & Hope Preschool and Academy at 5868 Lenox Ave. to check how her child was doing. The employees at the daycare told the mother that they had not seen her child.

The mother then rushed to the facility and found the infant in the back seat of the daycare van, which was “parked there in the sun,” authorities said.

“Efforts were made to resuscitate the infant and she was transported to the hospital,” said the statement from the Sheriff’s Office.

According to, an organization run by the San Jose State University, 804 children across the United States have died in hot cars since 1998. So far this year, nine children have died in the United States due to this danger.

It also found that between 1998 and 2018, the average number of heatstroke fatalities per year is 38 deaths.

Venus Upadhayaya contributed to this report.

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