3-year-old in car dies of heat stroke 5:39 PM

05:39 PM EDT on Monday, June 16, 2008

E-mail Mark: MBoone@WCNC.COM

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. –- A 3-year-old girl found unresponsive inside her relative’s car over the weekend died from heat exposure, police said Monday.

Rakala McLaughlin of Marlboro, S.C. was visiting her aunt and uncle at their residence on Dogwood Lane in Rockingham, Chief Robert Voorhees said.

There were four other young children at the home when the girl’s relatives noticed she was missing at around 3 p.m. Saturday, Voorhees said.

Someone at the home called 911 to report her missing. Moments later, another 911 call was made from the home to report the girl had been found unconscious inside a parked 1989 Toyota Camry.

McLaughlin was taken by paramedics to Rockingham Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Voorhees said investigators had questioned several witnesses and the child’s relatives but had not yet determined why she was in the car, which is registered to the girl’s family, or how long she had been there.

The windows had been rolled up and the temperature inside the car was likely 110 degrees or more, he said.

"Obviously the child was in the vehicle alone, wasn’t able to get out and succumbed to the heat," Voorhees said.

Voorhees said he will meet with the Richmond County District Attorney to determine if the girl’s relatives will be charged with neglect.