Toddler left in hot car dies outside Florida church

Child dies outside church in Jacksonville Beach

Jacksonville Beach investigating after a toddler died outside a church in a heat-related incident. (Copyright 2023 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Jacksonville Beach Police are investigating after a child died Tuesday afternoon after being left inside a hot vehicle in a church parking lot, according to News 6 partner WJXT.

Police did not share all of the details about the young girl’s death, but Jacksonville Beach Police spokeswoman Sgt. T.L. Tator said the death happened outside the Bethlehem Lutheran Church on 8th Ave North around 2:40 p.m. and “heat was a factor.” The church is also home to a preschool during the day.

As of Tuesday evening, it wasn’t immediately clear if the incident was criminal or accidental, police said.

[EXCLUSIVE: Become a News 6 Insider (it’s FREE) | PINIT! Share your photos]

Police could also be seen investigating a gray van that was parked near the church.

“As we all know it is summertime heat gets extremely unbearable, more for elderly and for youth. So that is something we need to keep in mind,” Tator said. “Whether you’re playing outside or you’re traveling in any type of vehicle, you’ve always got to keep that vehicle cool and you always always have to be your where your children are.”

Tator said police are still investigating what happened and more details will be released later.

No one was detained or arrested following the death, police said, and everyone involved has been interviewed.

“We just have to right now figure out exactly what happened here today in this tragedy,” she said. “It affects everybody. It affects not only the parishioners, and it affects the community, it affects the officers, so we just ask that everybody keep that family and their thoughts and prayers.”

According to the National Safety Council, at least six children have died in hot cars across Florida so far this year. That’s more than any other state, and the list does not yet include the little girl who died Tuesday.

Get today’s headlines in minutes with Your Florida Daily:

About the Authors:

This native of the Big Apple joined the News4Jax team in July 2021.