75ºF

Mom of baby found dead in SUV in Deltona speaks

Middle school teacher inadvertently left 6-month-old in vehicle, officials say

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DELTONA, Fla. – The mother of the baby who was found dead in a vehicle parked at Deltona Middle School last week told WKMG-TV on Monday that she believes her son was left in the hot car by accident.

Six-month-old Trenton Cason-Collins was inadvertently left in the back seat of a SUV all day Friday by a teacher related to the boy, according to deputies. Deputies said Trenton belonged to a relative of 38-year-old Chanda Larson of Orange City and had been placed in her care approximately six weeks ago.

"You don't expect something like this to happen to you, and when it does, you can't prepare for it," said Alycyia Cason, the baby's mother.

Cason said Larson was helping her out and helping her get back on her feet by taking care of Trenton.

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"I came to give my son a Teddy bear ... and give him one last goodbye," Cason told a reporter at the school's parking lot, where a memorial is now located. She left a note for him that reads, "Trenton, we will always love you and you will always be in our hearts. Love you, mommy and daddy."

"He was a very good kid," said the baby's father, Brian Joseph Collins. "He always smiled. He was active, always healthy, a loving child. We know it was an accident."

Deputies said Monday they have not made a decision on if the teacher will face charges.

"It appears to be a tragic accident, but we still have to look to see if there are criminal charges are there or not. We'll investigate it thoroughly and will try to decide what we see," said Sheriff Ben Johnson.

Johnson told WKMG that the teacher arrived at the school around 7 a.m. Friday, and the baby boy was found around 4 p.m. in the front parking lot of the school, which is on Enterprise Road, according to deputies.

"According to a statement that Chanda Larson gave to Sheriff's investigators, she had dropped off her son at his school Friday morning and then brought Trenton's sister to her bus stop. Larson was then supposed to drop off Trenton at a day care in Deltona, but forgot and drove directly to Deltona Middle School," said Sheriff's Office spokesman Gary Davidson.

Temperatures in Deltona hovered in the mid-80s Friday.

The Sheriff's Office said it received a 911 call about the baby at 3:54 p.m. A school resource deputy rushed to the scene three minutes after the call came in, but the baby was already dead, deputies said.

"I just got out to my car, he's dead, my baby's dead," said the 911 caller. "He was left in the car, I can't believe I did that!"

"The initial incident report released earlier today indicates that Trenton was found face down on the backseat of Larson's silver, 2008 Honda SUV and out of his car seat," said spokesman Davidson. "According to Larson's statement, when she discovered Trenton in the vehicle Friday afternoon, she removed him from the car seat and called out for help. A bystander came to her aid and attempted to resuscitate Trenton, but when the efforts failed, Trenton was placed on the back seat in the position he was found when deputies arrived."

Family members said that Larson is Trenton's cousin. A GoFundMe.com page created to "give baby Trenton the proper funeral he deserves," explains "As many of you may have seen or heard about two parents who lost their six month old baby boy due to a tragic accident while in someone else's care. At that time they were trying to get back on their feet only weeks prior. The family is grieving over this unfortunate loss."

Students returned to school Tuesday after having Monday off for a teacher work day.

The Florida Department of Children and Families said it has investigated Trenton and his sister in the past.

"There were no verified reports of abuse or neglect regarding this child," said John Harrell, DCF spokesman. Harrell said DCF did not have any involvement placing Trenton in Larson's care but now DCF is investigating his death.

"There's going to be negativity, people are skeptical," Cason said. "We appreciate the ones that are there for us."

Sheriff Johnson said his investigators are having a hard time with the case, given the child's age.

"I can tell you we have employees that are very shaken over this incident right now," Johnson said. "This is one of those days that you don't like being the sheriff."

"I always said he came with an easy button," Cason said. "He never cried. He was a good baby."

"Our deepest sympathy goes out to the family and the Deltona Middle School community. This tragedy has broken the hearts of all of us in the school district. We will stand by the family with love and compassion," Volusia County Schools said in a statement.



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