SHELBY TWP. (WWJ) – Heat stroke has been listed as the cause of death for a 2-year-old boy found left in a minivan outside a Macomb County home — for as many as 11 hours.
Shelby Township police responded to the Dequindre Estates Mobile Home Park, near Hamlin and Dequindre roads, around 6:10 p.m. Tuesday after receiving several 911 calls about a child being left inside a vehicle.
Officers and EMS personnel arrived to find James Nelson unresponsive outside of a home on Marmoor Drive. The child was rushed to Troy Beaumont Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The van’s windows were rolled up. Tuesday’s high was about 73 degrees. He may have been in the van since 7 a.m. Tuesday.
An autopsy performed Wednesday listed hyperthermia as contributing to the boy’s death.
It’s unclear who was caring for James on Tuesday and who put him in the child’s car seat.
His mother, 21-year-old Audrionna Rhoades, was at work Tuesday at a medical supply company in Oakland County. The boy often was left in the care of her roommate or Rhoades’ parents who live nearby, Woelkers said.
“It could have been a baby sitter, the grandparents or the mother,” Woelkers said.
Police Chief Roland Woelkers said investigators are talking with boy’s family members, as well as neighbors, but have been receiving conflicting reports regarding the child’s death.
Beaumont Pediatric Trauma nurse Erica Surman says kids can succumb to heat stroke in weather as cool as 57 degrees.
“Never leave your kids in a car — ever,” Surman told WWJ Newsradio 950. “It’s illegal in the state of Michigan, so yuo shouldn’t be doing it. “Even if you go inside just to pay for your gas, in that 10 minutes the car temperature can rise 20 degrees.”
Surman says most cases involve parents unintentionally leaving kids in the car. The rest of time, children become trapped while playing in a car or, are left in the car by parents who think they’ll be gone for a just a few minutes.
She said kids are particularly at risk for vehicular hyperthermia because their bodies can’t regulate temperature changes as well as adults can.
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