AFlorida woman has been arrested in connection with the death of a 2-year-old after she left the toddler in a hot car for hours, police said.
The tragic incident took place Friday when Juana Perez-Domingo, 43, allegedly forgot little Jocelyn Mendez in her vehicle for seven hours. Perez-Domingo was being paid $40 a week to take the toddler to daycare.
Perez-Domingo was supposed to drive the child to daycare in Homestead early morning but went back to her own place after the daycare facility was not yet opened at the time of her drop-off. Perez-Domingo told the police she “got distracted” and went inside her home while forgetting about the child in the car, reported Miami Herald.
The child was allegedly seated in the third row of Perez-Domingo’s Toyota Sienna minivan in a seat belt instead of a car seat. The real-feel temperature on the day hit 96 degrees, reported the New York Post.
Perez-Domingo is not a licensed driver, police said. According to a Miami-Dade police report, Perez-Domingo called the child’s mother after she returned to the car and found Mendez. She then brought the girl to her mother’s home instead of immediately calling 911, reported the NYP. The toddler had already died from a heat-related illness by the time, said authorities.
Police have ordered an autopsy to determine the official cause of the baby girl’s death.
Perez-Domingo was taken to prison early Saturday. She was charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child, reported WPLG. A bond of $50,000 was set by a judge. If Perez-Domingo is released, she will be placed under house arrest. She will also be prohibited from driving any other children other than her own.
“Over 1,000 U.S. children have died in hot cars since 1990 which underscores the importance of adding detection technology to vehicles to end these predictable and preventable tragedies. Every day that we delay in advancing these cost-effective detection technologies mean children are at risk of needlessly dying,” said Janette Fennell, president of Kids and Car, a non-profit organization, as per the Miami Herald.
Earlier this month, a 3-year-old foster boy was found dead in a hot car in South Carolina after the guardian “mistakenly” left him inside the vehicle. The guardian told the investigators she thought she had dropped the boy along with the other children at daycare but did not realize that he had not gone inside with them until later that day.