A 60-year-old man has been charged with abuse and neglect in connection with the death of a toddler who was left in a locked car at a New Jersey commuter rail station parking lot.
According to a Sept. 16 statement from the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, Shelton Shambry was charged with fourth-degree abuse and neglect in connection with the Aug. 16 tragedy.
The girl’s body was found in a van parked outside the PATCO Hi-Speedline station in Lindenwold after spending over eight hours locked inside the vehicle with temperatures hitting the upper 80s.
Shambry, the child’s legal guardian, put the 22-month-old girl in a vehicle shortly before 6:30 a.m. on the day of the incident, then forgot she was in the backseat.
“When the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) and Lindenwold Police arrived at the scene, they located the 22-month-old female unresponsive in her car seat with the passenger window broken,” the Prosecutor’s Office said.
Emergency crews tried to resuscitate the child but were unable to revive her, ABC7 reported. The baby was pronounced dead at the scene.
The medical examiner ruled her death as accidental.
Shambry was charged on a summons and released pending future court proceedings.
In a similar recent case, a Tennessee man was charged with child neglect after his young son died when he left him in a hot car for two hours.
Dylan Levesque, 23, had left his 3-year-old son Daylin Palmer in the backseat of a car on July 11 while he took a nap inside a home in Smyrna, WSMV reported. Police discovered the child about two hours later and declared him dead at the scene.
“Unfortunately, Daylin did not survive the heatstroke,” Smyrna Police Chief Kevin Arnold said.
Hot Car Death Figures
Heatkills.org, citing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that when outdoor temperatures range between 80 and 100 degrees, the interior of the car can get to 130 to 172 degrees.
“Children have died in cars with the temperature as low as 63 degrees. Basically, the car becomes a greenhouse. At 70 degrees on a sunny day, after a half hour, the temperature inside a car is 104 degrees. After an hour, it can reach 113 degrees,” stated Jan Null, adjunct professor at San Francisco State University, according to the website.
According to KidsAndCars.org, over 900 children have died in hot cars across the United States since 1990 and so far this year, there have been 41 hot-car deaths.
“Even the best of parents or caregivers can unknowingly leave a sleeping baby in a car,” the website warns, adding that “the end result can be injury or even death.”
The organization also says that in incidents between 1990 and 2018 involving hot car deaths, 56 percent of caregivers “unknowingly left” children in vehicles.
“In an overwhelming majority of child vehicular heatstroke deaths, it was a loving, responsible parent that unknowingly left the child,” the organization says.
By contrast, the organization notes that 13 percent of parents “knowingly left” children in cars, while 27 percent of the remaining deaths involved children who got into vehicles on their own.
Another 4 percent died under unclear circumstances.