Mother charged with the murder of her 10-month-old son who died after she left him alone in a hot car
Elizabeth Barhonovich's bond has been set at $50,000 on the murder charge and had to be revised in this case because of a probation violation from a previous crime
A woman in Mississippi has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of her infant son after the authorities said that she left him alone in a hot car for an unknown amount of time. Mike Ezell, the Jackson County Sheriff, made an announcement on June 19 that included the charge against 28-year-old Elizabeth Barhonovich, who is from Vancleave, the local station WLOX reported. Her bond was then set for $50,000 on the murder charge.
The 10-month-old infant, Kash, was found in the car that was incidentally parked outside Barhonovich's home on June 14 on Arthur Avenue. The temperature in the area of Vancleave that day was reported to be 90 degrees F (32 degrees C).
The authorities have said that the preliminary autopsy results have shown that the infant boy's death is consistent with symptoms of hyperthermia which means the body temperature had risen.
WLOX reported that the mother had made her first court appearance in this case on June 20 morning. Her bond, however, has been revoked because she still has to clear a probation violation from one of her earlier convictions. The Sun-Herald reported that Barhonovich has quite a history with when it comes to getting on the bad side of the law. She was found guilty of a second-degree DUI and was sentenced to jail three years ago.
KidsAndCars.org, an organization that helps keep a track of vehicular incidents that involve children, has claimed that a total of 15 children in the country have died because they were left inside hot cars just this year. According to a report that was published recently by the National Safety Council, 742 children have died because of pediatric vehicular heatstroke between 1998 and 2017 with an average of 37 deaths per year.
Research conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics has said that a child's body heats up at a rate that is three to five times faster than that of an adult. When a child is left inside a hot car alone, the organs start shutting down as soon as the temperature hits 104 degrees. When the body temperature hits 107 degrees, the child will die. Temperatures inside a parked car can jump to 10 degrees higher in just 30 minutes and 40 degrees or more in 60-90 minutes.
When the temperature outside can reach 90 degrees, like the day in Vancleave when the infant died, the inside of the parked vehicle can reach upwards of 130 degrees.
The authorities have issued warnings to parents to be very careful with their children as the temperature keeps going up. The warning came after a 7-month-old baby died inside a car in Kingsland, Georgia, on June 19. One Lee County resident, Ashley Marshall, told WALB: "It is really hot. It is too hot. I'm fixing to go float down the river because it is just too hot."
The main reason why the authorities are asking parents to make sure their children stay safe while in the car during the summer is because of the sudden rise in temperature inside the car. An investigator with the Special Victims Unit in the Lee County Sheriff's Office has said: "We had a total of 38 in the United States of children lost due to heat stroke in the vehicle." She said that most of the child deaths happen when the parents get out of the car and forget that they have left their children in the backseat.
She said: "The majority of the loss, it's a high percentage, is because they forgot. They forgot to drop them off at daycare, and they come out from work and find their child." According to Lindsey, there's a super easy way to remember that you have left your child inside the car. "Always take something important, like your cell phone, or your pocketbook, or your wallet, or something that's important, put it in the back seat, put it wherever the child is."
According to Lindsey, this is the best way for you to not forget your child in the car as you're getting out because you'll turn around to get it then you'll remember to take your kid out as well.
She said: "And then you don't make the mistake of coming out from work and your child being lost forever. You may be a little bit late, but being late is a lot better than your child being lost forever."
A meteorology expert from San Jose State University, Jan Null, has tracked hot car deaths across the United States since 2001. His research depicts the states that have seen the most child heat-related car deaths throughout the years.
When it comes to Mississippi, with 22 deaths per capita from 1998-2016, it stands out as the state with the highest amount of deaths. Interestingly, Mississippi is among 31 states that do not have specific laws regarding children being left unattended.