Fort Myers police investigate infant's death

Rachel Revehl • rrevehl@news-press.com •
March 8, 2010

7:30 P.M. UPDATE — Fort Myers police have identified the baby who died after being left in a car earlier today as 18-month-old Payton McKinnon.

Payton’s father, Reginald McKinnon picked up his daughter from day care at 8 a.m. for a doctor’s appointment, said Shelly Flynn, spokeswoman for the Fort Myers Police Department.

The appointment ran longer than expected and he returned to work at 11:09 a.m., accidentally leaving his daughter in the vehicle, Flynn said.

McKinnon left work shortly after 3 p.m., when he discovered Payton was still in the car.  Charges have not yet been determined, Flynn said.

Detectives and the Medical Examiner’s Office continue to investigate

5:55 P.M. — The baby girl was found in a child’s car seat that was in the middle in the backseat of the Ford Explorer, according to Fort Myers police.

Two other children’s car seats were arranged there as well.

4:59 p.m. update

Fort Myers police received a call at about 3:30 p.m. about a baby left in a Ford Explorer in the parking lot of Century Link on Lee Street in downtown Fort Myers.

Sgt. Sean Hoover said he couldn’t confirm how long the baby — a little girl younger than 1 year old — had been left in the car. “We just know it was a long time,” he said.

Hoover said the father, who works at Century Link, is very distraught.

The Department of Children and Families is investigating.

4:39 p.m. update

Fort Myers police have said the child is a girl who had been left in the Ford Explorer for an extended period of time. Investigators say it appears to be an accident.

The child's father works at Century Link where the SUV was found parked.

The vehicle is registered to a Cape Coral couple, both 37 years-old, according to public records.

Today's high was 73 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

4:27 p.m. update

Erin Gillespie, spokeswoman for the Department of Children and Families, said an investigator is on the way to the scene where the child was found inside a vehicle.

It is not yet clear how long the child had been there,  the exact age or sex of the child.

Gillespie said the last time this is believed to have happened was in 2002, when Daniel McCray, 2, died after his parents accidentally left him in the car outside the family home. Charges of aggravated manslaughter against his parents were later
dismissed. That same year, Jabriana Christmas, 2,  died after her mother accidentally left her in a vehicle. Her mother later pleaded no contest to child neglect and was placed on two years probation.

While the details of this case are not yet available, Gillespie said it is always important for parents or caretakers to double-check their vehicles to make sure they have not forgotten a child inside, and also to never leave a child alone inside a closed vehicle, even for a short time.

“Many people don’t realize how hot it can become inside a car very quickly,” Gillespie said. “Especially on sunny days, and in Florida, that means most of the year.”