Deputies: Baby left in hot car dies
Both parents thought other had child

Published: Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 6:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 6:02 a.m.

OCALA - An 8-month-old child died Wednesday afternoon after the infant's parents each thought the other had gotten the baby out of the car and brought her inside their home, according to Marion County sheriff's deputies.

Sheriff's officials said the parents, a 17-year-old mother and a 26-year-old boyfriend, arrived at the home at 6690 N.W. Fourth St. at about 3:30 p.m.

The names of the mother, father and child had not been released late Wednesday.

Each said they thought the other had removed the infant from the car seat. Realizing that the child may be still in the car, they went outside two hours later and found the girl unresponsive, authorities said.

A neighbor performed CPR on the child until paramedics arrived. The infant was then rushed to Munroe Regional Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

Authorities are awaiting autopsy results before making a determination on whether charges will be filed.

Afternoon highs Wednesday were in the upper 80s.

Austin L. Miller may be reached at or 867-4118.

Cause of death not yet certain for Ocala baby left in car


Published: Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 10:27 a.m.

OCALA - The Medical Examiner's Office did not have a conclusive cause of death following an autopsy on the body of an 8-month-old baby girl who died Wednesday after being left in a car.

The autopsy Thursday morning did not rule out that the baby, whose first name was Isabella, died from "hyperthermia" - or an exceptionally high body temperature, Marion County sheriff's Maj. Chris Blair said. The Medical Examiner's Office was conducting further "microscopic examinations" to determine the exact cause of death.

Isabella was left inside a 2005 Chevy by her parents for two hours. The incident was reported shortly after 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at 6690 N.W. Fourth Ave.

Marion County Fire Rescue spokeswoman Heather Danenhower said firefighters were dispatched at 5:37 p.m. When they arrived at 5:43 p.m., Emergency Medical Services Alliance personnel were already there

At 5:45 p.m., they called a Code 4, meaning the child was in cardiac arrest, had no heartbeat or breathing and was unconscious, Danenhower said. Rescue personnel were performed CPR and other advanced life support.

Isabella was taken to Munroe Regional Medical Center. Doctors worked on the child, and she was pronounced dead at 6:33 p.m., according to a report by Marion County sheriff's Deputy John Dorland.

Sheriff's officials did not release the baby's full name or the name of her 17-year-old mother. The baby's father is 26-year-old Carlo James Vaughn, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Medical personnel told sheriff's deputies that the child's mother told them she discovered her daughter was in the vehicle at 5:30 p.m. The baby was strapped in a car seat.

The teenage mother screamed for help, and a neighbor, Heidi Costello, came over and performed CPR on the child. She stopped when rescue officials arrived. Medical people were told the baby had been left in the car for about two hours.

At the hospital, Dorland talked with the child's mother. She told him she picked up the baby from day care and went to her job to pick up her paycheck. Vaughn, the baby's father, was with her at the time.

When they got home, the mother said, she thought Vaughn had brought the baby inside, according to Dorland's report. That was around 3:30 p.m.

The parents told detectives that for the next two hours they went out their household tasks, cooking and using the computer. Each thought the other had brought Isabella inside.

The baby reportedly was asleep when they turned into the driveway.

Two hours later, the mother became concerned when she could not hear the baby. She discovered Isabella was not in her crib, and she ran out to the car, where she found her unresponsive, according to the report. She said she took the baby from the car, and then the neighbor came and performed CPR.

Sheriff's officials called the Department of Children and Families and reported the case. A DCF investigator came to the hospital.

During the Sheriff's Office investigation, Vaughn called the baby's mother and told her he was angry and didn't want to come to the hospital. A deputy found Vaughn on College Road. Other deputies, including an evidence technician, went to Vaughn's location and photographed the car.

Investigators also removed items from the car, but officials didn't disclose what was confiscated.

No one has been charged so far in the case.

The Sheriff's Office is looking into the age difference between the baby's father, who is 26, and mother, who is 17, Maj. Chris Blair said. "We certainly are going to look at the age difference, and as the investigation continues we'll review the death of the infant and the possibility of unlawful sexual activities between both parties."

That issue will be discussed with the State Attorney's Office, Blair said. "They will make a decision on whether or not charges will be filed."

Chief Assistant State Attorney Ric Ridgway said prosecutors will review the case once the Sheriff's Office investigation is complete.

At this point, he said, the sexual issue is "not going to be a major part of this investigation."

The major issue will be the death of the child. He said it's going to be a question of whether it was an accident, culpable negligence or child abuse. If it's simple negligence, then it's not a crime. If it's culpable negligence, then it's a crime.

Costello, the neighbor who performed CPR, said Thursday that Vaughn and the mother were good parents. She characterized the baby's death as a "tragic incident."

A woman who answered the door at 6690 N.W. Fourth Ave. declined to speak with a reporter.