Boy, 4, found dead in vehicle

BREVARD — Family members of a 4-year-old boy who died Wednesday after being left in a hot car say they still aren’t sure how the accident happened.

Lance Duncan was found dead by his mother, Reba Duncan, Wednesday afternoon, family members said.

The boy had been left in a car much of the day by his grandmother, Shirley Strickland.

“We just don’t know,” Jennifer McCall, who is Shirley Strickland’s daughter and the sister of Reba Duncan, said today of how the incident happened.

Family members were gathered today at Shirley Strickland’s home on Asheville Highway, a home she shared with Reba Duncan and Duncan’s four children.

Family members said Strickland drove the three older children to school and was supposed to drop Lance off at his daycare center in Rosman. But she apparently forgot the boy was in the car and went to work at a Brevard manufacturing plant, leaving the child in the car.

After she got off work at 2:30 p.m., she drove home, still apparently unaware the boy, who was by then deceased, was in the car.

Reba Duncan discovered her son in the car when Strickland arrived home.

“It’s just shocking, such a tragedy,” said Sharon McHarge, who is Lance’s aunt. “He was really friendly and loving. It’s just a terrible thing.”

Lance Duncan’s body was sent for an autopsy, she said.

No charges have been filed, but the Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate.

Sheriff David Mahoney called the situation “a gut-wrenching tragedy.”

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Questions remain in Brevard boy's death

Brevard child, 4, left in hot vehicle

BREVARD — Family members of a 4-year-old boy who died after being left for hours in a hot car said Thursday they are struggling to find answers about how accident happened.

Lance Duncan was found dead by his mother, Reba Duncan, on Wednesday afternoon, family members said.

The boy had been left in a car much of the day by his grandmother, Shirley Strickland.

“We just don’t know,” Jennifer McCall, who is Strickland’s daughter and the sister of Reba Duncan, said of how the incident happened. “He was asleep in the back of the car.”

Family members were gathered Thursday at Strickland’s home on Asheville Highway, a home she shared with Reba Duncan and Duncan’s four children. Lance was the youngest child.

Strickland had been hospitalized recently for a stress-related problem, the family said.

“She had the same routine every day,” McCall said as she wiped away tears.

Family members said Strickland drove the three older children to school and was supposed to drop Lance off at his day care center in Rosman.

But she apparently forgot the boy was in the car and went to work at a Brevard manufacturing plant, leaving the child in the car on a day when temperatures reached into the upper 80s.

After she got off work at 2:30 p.m., she drove home, still apparently unaware the boy, who was by then deceased, was in the car, family members said.

Reba Duncan discovered her son in the car when Strickland arrived home.

“It’s just shocking, such a tragedy,” said Sharon McHarge, who is Lance’s aunt. “He was really friendly and loving. It’s just a terrible thing.”

McHarge said Lance was in the back seat of Strickland’s Kia SUV. The boy had managed to climb out of his child safety seat and was found lying on the back seat.

The boy’s body was sent for an autopsy, McHarge said.

No charges have been filed, but the Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate. Sheriff David Mahoney called the situation “a gut-wrenching tragedy.”

“It is unclear at this point if the child fell asleep or what led to the grandmother not realizing he was still in the vehicle,” Mahoney said in a statement.

The incident happened on the hottest day of the year in Brevard. Experts say the child likely died of heat stroke.

“Once your body temperature gets to 107 degrees, your cells are damaged, and the organs shut down,” said Dr. Jennifer Mullendore, medical director at the Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services.

Mullendore said such cases are rare, “are so devastating to the family. It’s so preventable. It’s something that doesn’t have to happen.”

According to a national public safety group, KidsandCars.org, an average of 38 children die in the U.S. each year inside hot cars.

Experts say the temperature inside an enclosed car in summer can rise to 150 degrees or higher, depending on the vehicle and outside temperature.

“Regardless of the temperature outside, you should never leave a child in a vehicle,” Mullendore said.

“It can take as little as 15 minutes in an overheated car for a child to die.”