A 2-year-old Florida girl who fell asleep in her car seat died after she allegedly was left in a hot car on purpose by her parents, authorities said.
The girl’s parents, Kathreen Adams, 23, and Christopher McLean, 32, were arrested and charged with child neglect, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Additional charges are expected, Holmes County Sheriff John Tate said at a news conference Wednesday.
Deputies responded to a home in the Florida Panhandle community of Prosperity at 3:43 p.m. Tuesday after a hysterical woman called 911. Sheriff Tate said the 911 operator was not able to get information from the woman because she was screaming. The responding deputy was met at the home with a person carrying the unresponsive 2-year-old.
The deputy immediately began CPR until emergency medical services arrived and took over but the child was pronounced dead shortly afterward.
Adams initially told deputies that she found her daughter inside the home unresponsive. The sheriff said the child’s temperature was 107 degrees “so we knew something wasn’t adding up.”
During the investigation, authorities learned that the child had been left in the car for about 14 hours. Adams eventually told deputies that she had left work around midnight and went to a relative’s house to pick up the 2-year-old and the girl’s 4-year-old sibling.
Adams, McLean and the children then drove home, the sheriff said.
“The baby was asleep in the car seat. They decided to leave the child in the car and went inside and ultimately fell asleep and did not wake up or did not realize that the child was in the car until around 3:41 that afternoon,” he said.
The sheriff said Adams “purposely, through her own statement, purposely left the child in the car throughout the night.”
McLean was uncooperative and invoked his rights “and did not wish to give us a statement or talk to us at that time,” according to the sheriff.
Sheriff Tate said there are some discrepancies about what time the couple actually found the girl and when 911 was called. Adams also said the 4-year-old got out of the car and went into the house.
“We do not have any evidence of whether he was in the car or in the house. That’s still something we’re trying to find out,” the sheriff said about the 4-year-old.
A search of the couple’s home found methamphetamine, marijuana, CBD gummies and drug paraphernalia, the sheriff told reporters. Adams told authorities that she and McLean smoked marijuana after they went into the house.
When asked if he had a message to the community, the sheriff said: “Don’t do drugs. I honestly believe methamphetamine, drugs is the culprit behind this death.”
“That’s what happens when you use drugs, you lose sense of what’s going on in reality and this kind of stuff happens. Probably if they wasn’t on drugs, we probably wouldn’t be here today,” he said.
The 4-year-old child has been placed in the custody of the Department of Children and Families.