A Michigan woman was arrested Monday after the death of her son, who was left for hours in a hot minivan with the windows rolled up earlier this month. Audrionna Rhoades was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday on second-degree murder and child negligent abuse charges.
Two-year-old James Nelson was left in a vehicle in a driveway at a mobile home park in Shelby Township, where he lived with his mother, according to Patch.
Her father, Johnny Rhoades, found his grandson around 6 p.m. on Sept. 3, after being alerted by his daughter's roommate, according to the Detroit Free Press.
"I go down there, and he’s dead,” Rhoades told the paper. "He’s in the van, strapped in his frickin’ car seat, sopping wet, blue. My girlfriend tried CPR, but he was dead. The poor baby.”
According to WXYZ-TV, the cause of death was determined to be hyperthermia, or heatstroke. Officials believe Nelson was in the van for the entire day.
Patch reports the child had a temperature of 108 degrees when he was cared for at the hospital. According to the Macomb Daily, the day's temperature reached the mid-70s, but police said the temperature could have quickly risen to 130 degrees inside the van. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, heatstroke inside cars can occur with outside temperatures as low as 57 degrees.
According to the Free Press, authorities claim Rhoades left her son strapped into a car seat in the minivan around 8:30 a.m. before driving to work in another car.
“We believe the evidence demonstrates that the actions of the defendant showed a reckless disregard of the life of her child," Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith told the paper.
According to data from the San Francisco State University Department of Geosciences, there have been at least 30 confirmed heatstroke deaths of children left in cars. Read more about the phenomenon and suggestions for parents and caretakers to help lessen the chance of forgetting a child in a car here.