Eleven-month-old Missouri girl dies after parents leave her in hot car for 16 hours
A baby girl was just days out from her first birthday when she died after being locked inside a hot car for about 16 hours in St. Louis, Missouri. Eleven-month-old Joseline Eichelberger was found unresponsive by her grandmother in the backseat of her parents' vehicle on Sunday afternoon, Daily Mail reports.
Authorities believe her parents had left her in the vehicle after they returned to their Calverton Park residence following a night out late on Saturday.
While temperatures in St. Louis touched 79 degrees (26.11 Celsius) on Sunday, the inside of the car would have been far hotter.
“It’s heartbreaking when there’s any life lost especially when you’re dealing with a child and of an age that young,” Calverton Park Public Information Officer Chris Robertson told Fox 2.
When first responders arrived at the scene, they found Joseline wasn't breathing and were unable to revive her despite their best efforts.
As of now, the police is working with the prosecuting attorney's office to investigate the tragic death. ABC News reported that no arrests have been made but police have spoken with two undisclosed persons of interest, most likely the parents.
That said, friends and relatives of Joseline's parents have come out in strong support of the couple, refusing to believe they would intentionally leave the young tot in the car.
"You have two young parents. One telling one to get the child, the other telling the other and... you know, mistakes are made," a family friend told KMOV4. "It's a nightmare, they're traumatized. They can't stop crying."
"I feel like a piece of my heart is gone because she was a part of me," said Joseline's cousin Lilly Bellfield.
"They didn't mean to do it," the tearful niece told of the couple, "They would never mean to kill her, harm her, nothing like that!"
Meanwhile, the victim's grandmother, Michelle Eichelberger, has set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds for her funeral. She also revealed a candlelight vigil is scheduled to be held on June 9 -- when baby Joseline would have celebrated her first birthday.
As the weather continues to warm up, police are warning parents to be extra vigilant about leaving young children inside cars.
Since 1998, at least 800 children have died after being left in hot cars, USA Today reported last month.