Second toddler trapped in hot car
in N.C. dies Saturday
By John Warren, Meghan Hoyer, Patrick Wilson
© June 28, 2008
MANNS HARBOR, N.C.
An 18-month-old girl died after wandering from her home with her 2-year-old sister Friday afternoon, and the older sister died early Saturday morning, authorities said.
Clyde Gard, chief of the village’s fire department, said the two girls were found in a neighbor’s car about 30 minutes after they were reported missing.
The girls were reported missing about 2:50 p.m. from a house on Ina Waterfield Road in Manns Harbor, said Sgt. Terry Ballance of the Dare County Sheriff's Office. The neighbor's car was very hot inside, Ballance said.
According to a preliminary report, the girls were playing outside with their older brother when they became trapped in the vehicle, Ballance said.
Gard said both girls were initially unresponsive; the 2-year-old responded after first aid. Both girls were transported to Outer Banks Hospital in Nags Head. The 18-month-old was pronounced dead at the hospital, Ballance said. The 2-year-old was taken to Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk for treatment.
She died early Saturday morning, the Dare County Sheriff's Office said.
"It just appears to be a very tragic accident," said Lt. Bill Godley of the sheriff's office.
Officials had still not released the girls' names as of 5 p.m. Saturday.
Gard said the girls were local residents. The village is just across the Croatan Sound from Manteo.
In more than 20 years with the fire department, Gard said he had seen no similar cases involving children.
The sheriff's office is investigating the incident.
MANNS HARBOR, N.C.
Authorities have identified two girls who died after being trapped in a neighbor's car Friday afternoon.
No one is quite sure how long Amy Cooper's toddler daughters - Amariyah Lynn Daniels, 2, and her sister, Kassandra Rain Daniels, 19 months - were trapped in the two-tone Mercury Topaz that sat in their neighbor's driveway. But by the time sheriff's deputies found them in the back seat Friday afternoon, it was too late.
The 19-month-old died shortly after. The 2-year-old died early Saturday morning.
The temperature inside the car was 135 degrees.
"It just appears to be a very tragic accident," Dare County Sheriff's Lt. Bill Godley said. "Everybody that was involved in this was touched. We had two young children who just died right there."
The girls, whose names the Sheriff's Department refused to release Saturday, had been playing with their 4-year-old brother outside their family's trailer off rural Ina Waterfield Road when they climbed into the unlocked car Friday. They were unable to get out.
On a day that hit 91 degrees in Manteo, the nearest town, temperatures inside the inoperable car caused first heatstroke and then hyperthermia. Children - especially younger ones - are especially susceptible because their bodies are not able to cool themselves as well as adults'.
"There's going to be lethal temperatures within a half-hour, definitely," said Jan Null, a San Francisco-based meteorologist who studies children's hyperthermia deaths in cars.
The girls were the 11th and 12th children in the nation this year to die from hyperthermia after being trapped in a vehicle. Four of those deaths have been in North Carolina, according to statistics kept by Null.
Down the dirt road, Javan Eaton was watching television Friday afternoon when her neighbor ran by, screaming.
"My children. I can't find my girls!" Cooper yelled.
Eaton leapt up and joined the search, and the road quickly filled with sheriff's deputies and neighbors.
The first place everyone looked was the water of Croatan Sound, a few hundred yards away.
Eaton waded in and walked the shoreline.
"Come home! We're gonna have a tea party!" Eaton hollered. It was, she said, "anything you could think of to entice a child."
Next door, Rita Mann saw another neighbor run to the water.
"I thought, dear Lord, something must have happened, because he was frantic," she said. Her grandson ran out on his family's dock, scanning the gentle waves for the two toddlers.
The Manns own a swath of land that stretches a mile from the waterfront, living on the shoreline while renting out several house trailers behind them. They rented a yellow trailer on a dirt road to Amy Cooper on June 9, Mann said.
After receiving a call about the missing children at 2:50 p.m., deputies spread out across what Godley called the "maze" of trailers, vehicles and people on the Mann s' property.
In the chaos, the girls' brother, upset by the commotion and his mother's worry, was unable to tell anyone where his sisters had gone, Godley said.
"He was 4 years old," Godley said. "You can't get much."
It was a deputy who looked in the back seat of an inoperable Topaz sitting in Alfredo Flores' unshaded driveway, only feet from the toddlers' home.
Deputies pulled the pair from the car and began CPR, Godley said. The 19-month-old was pronounced dead at Outer Banks Hospital in Nags Head. The older girl, who responded to first aid, was taken to Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters in Norfolk for treatment but died around 3 a.m. Saturday.
Deputies are continuing to investigate, Godley said.
On Saturday, a pink rubber shoe lay in the yard outside of Cooper's trailer home, its match floating in a kiddie pool nearby.
A child -size Dora the Explorer chair sat under a canopy tent, amid other toys and scooters.
Cooper's family wasn't home. They had moved in only a few weeks ago, and her neighbors said they hardly knew her or her family, only enough to see the children playing in the yard at times.
Next door, Flores, who hadn't been home Friday afternoon, tried to make sense of what happened inside the car he was hoping to fix up.
"The babies - they OK?" he asked.
He lowered his eyes at the answer.
The phone at the Manns' house rang steadily.
"The other one didn't make it," Mann told her caller, shaking her head.
And Eaton, her hands still shaking from the previous day's worry, said quiet Manns Harbor wouldn't be the same.
"None of us are going to get over this anytime soon," Eaton said. "It's just devastating."
Staff writer Patrick Wilson contributed to this report.
Meghan Hoyer, (757) 446-2293, email@example.com