State won't file charges against father in Lake City hot car death

Sheriff's office told 16-month-old's father forgot to drop her off at day care

LAKE CITY, Fla. – Prosecutors have decided not to file any charges in the May 13 death of a 16-month-old girl who was found not breathing after spending most of the day closed in her father's car.

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office was told that the father forgot to take the child to day care Tuesday morning and left his daughter in the car all day. 

The girl was found not breathing about 3:15 p.m. on May 13 when he got home and a family member inside asked him where the girl was and he realized the child was still inside the car. He ran to get her and performed CPR, but when paramedics arrived, the girl was dead.

"We decided that it's not something we're going to prosecute because there was no egregious behavior on his part, and to be honest with you, it's going to be hard to punish him more then he's being punished right now," said Assistant State Attorney Sean Brewer of the Eighth Judicial Circuit, based in Gainesville.

The girl's father is Young Kwon, a public defender, and mother is Assistant State Attorney Wendy Kwon, both employed in the Third Judicial Circuit. The criminal case was investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the neighboring judicial circuit due to the parents working in the judicial system in Columbia County. Governor Rick Scott's office called for the outside agency to investigate.

"Mr. Kwon was not under the influence of alcohol. Mr. Kwon was not intentionally leaving the child in the car to go do errands or anything like that," said Brewer. "What FDLE had found is there had been a break in the normal routine."

News4Jax spoke to Young Kwon at his home Monday afternoon, but he had no comment.

There are simple things you can do to prevent a hot car death. Click here for that information. 

About the Author:

Scott is a multi-Emmy Award Winning Anchor and Reporter, who also hosts the “Going Ringside With The Local Station” Podcast. Scott has been a journalist for 25 years, covering stories including six presidential elections, multiple space shuttle launches and dozens of high-profile murder trials.