The father of a toddler who died inside a hot car spoke out, saying he “pretty much lost [his] mind.”
Milliani Robertson-Lawrence, approximately 2, died on Aug. 16 after being stuck inside a minivan at a New Jersey train station for hours, authorities said.
Father Nasir Lawrence said he got a phone call alerting him as to what happened.
“Once I got the call, I thought it was a joke,” Lawrence told CBS Philadelphia. “I pretty much broke down and lost my mind.”
Lawrence said he was in prison recently and was trying to get custody of the girl back from her aunt and uncle.
He doesn’t understand what happened to lead to the death.
“How do you forget that there’s a 2-year-old who makes a lot of noise in the car?” he said. “What did you do for eight hours that you forgot a 2-year-old? Exactly what were you doing at the PATCO station? You killed my daughter. You took her from me.”
“I’m more than upset,” the 21-year-old told NBC10. “I’m more than mad. I’m more than livid. I lost my daughter.”
“It kills me to know that I won’t be able to hold my 2-year-old daughter again. It hurts too much,” Lawrence added.
“How do you leave a 2-year-old little girl in the car. And you get on the train for about eight more hours, come back and you have someone break the window because oh, you say, ‘I forgot. I left her in the car.'”
— Action News on 6abc (@6abc) August 16, 2019
He blamed authorities for not approving custody for him, saying he’d taken parenting classes, undergone anger management, and taken drug tests but was still not given custody.
The Camden County Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement that the girl was found inside a vehicle at the Lindenwold PATCO station on Aug. 16.
“At approximately 3:38 p.m., Camden County Central Communications received a 9-1-1 call in reference to a child inside of a van at the PATCO High Speed Line in Lindenwold. 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 baby was pronounced deceased at the scene at 3:54 p.m.,” the statement read.
There have not been any charges filed as of yet but authorities said the investigation is ongoing.
Anyone with information was urged to contact Camden County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Mike Batista at (856) 676-8175 or DRPA Corporal Joseph Ebling at (856) 969-7884.
— News12NJ (@News12NJ) August 16, 2019
Kids in Hot Cars
Fifty-two children died from heatstroke in 2018, according to the Kids and Cars website.
From 1990 to 2018, 889 children died from heatstroke.
According to the No Heat Stroke organization, 34 child vehicular heatstroke deaths have taken place so far this year.
In an examination of the causes of the deaths conducted by the group, it was found that 54 percent of the deaths stemmed from a caregiver forgetting the child. Another 26 percent of deaths came after a child gained access to the car on their own, while about 19 percent of the deaths came after they were knowingly left by a caregiver in the vehicle.
The U.S. National Safety Council said that caregivers can be aware of the deaths and take action.
“Parents and caregivers can act immediately to end these deaths. Even on relatively mild days, temperatures inside vehicles still can reach life-threatening levels in minutes, and cracking the window doesn’t help,” the council stated on its website.
“The National Safety Council advises parents and caregivers to stick to a routine and avoid distractions to reduce the risk of forgetting a child. Keep car doors locked so children cannot gain access, and teach them that cars are not play areas. Place a purse, briefcase or even a left shoe in the back seat to force you to take one last glance.”