Deputies: Mother arrested after 3-year-old found inside hot car

Katie Davis charged with child neglect; Boy in stable condition

BAKER COUNTY, Fla. – A mother was arrested after a 3-year-old boy was found unresponsive inside a locked car Thursday afternoon in Baker County, authorities said. 

Katie Davis, 23, is charged with child neglect.

The Baker County Sheriff's Office responded about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday to a home near Oc Horne Road after receiving a 911 call regarding an unresponsive toddler locked inside a vehicle that was not running.

While deputies and paramedics were on the way, according to the Sheriff's Office, the parents were able to get the 3-year-old boy out of the car by smashing one of the windows and unlocking the doors.

When they arrived, deputies said they began taking steps to cool the child’s body temperature before he was airlifted to Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, where he was reportedly in stable condition.

"Sheriff [Scotty] Rhoden is asking the community to pray for God’s protection over this child and all first responders involved," reads a post Thursday on the Sheriff's Office's Facebook page.

The high temperature Thursday was 94 degrees, according to deputies. While it is still unclear exactly how long the child had been locked inside the hot car, investigators said they learned that child's father had been at work all night and went to bed about 7 a.m. as usual. 

Detectives said Davis, the child's mother who is unemployed, also went back to sleep around that time with their son, despite getting some sleep the night before, and it was not until 1:30 p.m. -- about 6½ hours later -- that Davis woke up and found that the boy was not in bed.

She then discovered that the front door of their home was open and that's when the mother found the toddler inside the locked car, where some of his toys had been kept. 

Since detectives said Davis failed to provide her son with the supervision that any toddler would need for that amount of time during that time of day, she was arrested Friday on a charge of child neglect. 

The Sheriff's Office said the boy is expected to be medically cleared soon. 

The Department of Children and Families is investigating.

Child hot car dangers 

Nationwide, there have been 35 child hot car deaths, including four in Florida, this year, according to KidsAndCars.org.

One of the children who died was a 4-month-old in Jacksonville. In March, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, the baby girl was found unconscious in a van at a day care on the Westside and died. Police said the infant girl was found still in a child safety seat inside the van nearly five hours after the vehicle used to pick up children was parked out front, police said.

KidsAndCars.org said the average of child vehicular heatstroke deaths per year is 38, which is about one every nine days. It's already the third week of August and KidandCars.org numbers show the number of deaths this year is close to the average.

The National Safety Council reminds people to look before they lock their cars. There are also some steps parents and caregivers can take, including:

VIEW/PRINT: Look before you lock checklist

  • Putting something like a shoe, purse or phone in the back seat next to a child's car seat.
  • Asking a babysitter or child care provider to call if the child hasn't arrived as scheduled.
  • Setting an alarm.


Editors note: The original story listed the boy's age as 4 years old, but deputies later said he was 3 years and 10 months old -- nearly 4. 

About the Authors:

Brittany Muller

Multi-media journalist with a special interest in Georgia issues.