An 18-month-old girl died Tuesday in a hot car parked outside a Florida elementary school while her mother was inside teaching,
Jamie Buckley from Panama City, Fla., arrived at Cedar Grove Elementary School just before 7:30 a.m., parked her car and forgot her toddler was still in her car seat when she went into the building, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. She discovered the child at the end of the school day about 3:15 p.m. when she returned to her car.
“We responded to the school in reference to a child not breathing,” Sgt. Chad King told The Washington Post. “She was not able to be resuscitated.”
The child, Reagan Buckley, was pronounced dead at the scene. King said the Bay County Sheriff’s Office has launched a full investigation.
By Tuesday afternoon, temperatures in Panama City hit 83 degrees, according to data from Weather Underground. Once outside temperatures reach 80 to 100 degrees, temperatures inside a car can climb up to 131 to 172 degrees, according to a 1998 case study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Most temperature increases inside cars occur during the first 15 minutes of being left in the sun,” it stated.
Many on social media were questioning how a schoolteacher could interact with other children all day and not think once about her own.
“This child NEVER crossed her mind ALL day? All day? Poor baby,” Lisa Chickadel commented on the sheriff’s office Facebook page.
“The kid does not make ANY sounds on the drive to work? The mother does not check to see if she possibly left something in the back seat?” Sha Ron wrote. “Throw the damn book at her, hopefully it hits her in the head and knocks some sense into her! Incredible!”
But others seemed to understand the complexity that has unfolded in hot-car cases across the country.
“She was so worried probably about being on time for class for others children that she got out of her car in a hurry and it totally didn’t cross her mind. Out of site out of mind, you can not crucify this mother as she is broken enough right now,” Michelle Mortz Nowalinski wrote on Facebook. “Instead of passing judgement why don’t you pray for her and her family and stop casting stones.”
“I am lucky enough to know this mother,” Janice Mckinney wrote. “She would never do this intentionally. Make sure when you blame her. That you look in the mirror throwing those stones.”
Reportedly, the first hot-car death this year occurred April 20 in Phoenix. Police said James Koryor was drinking and left his 2-year-old son in his car for several hours. Then on May 12, police said assistant public defender Young Kwon in Lake City, Fla., forgot his 16-month-old daughter was in his car and left her there, where she died.
At least 30 children died in hot cars in the United States last year.
No charges have been filed in Tuesday’s incident, according to reports.
“Our hearts and prayers are with the family and the school,” Superintendent Bill Husfelt of Bay District Schools told the Panama City News Herald.