Two young children died after being in a hot car all day last week, according to the Richland County, South Carolina coroner’s office.
The local coroner, Nada Rutherford, confirmed to TODAY that the 20-month-old twin boys are likely to have died from hyperthermia, which occurs when body temperatures are too high. He said the coroner’s office is awaiting the toxicology report, which could take several weeks before an official cause of death is declared.
The twins were identified as Bryson and Brayden McDaniel.
In a press conference last week, Rutherford said the two boys had been traced by one of their parents to the day care center where they were enrolled.
The two are believed to have been left inside their parents’ small SUV for 9 1/2 hours in rear-facing child seats, she said.
Rutherford said the car had not been in the day care parking lot all day, which some employees may have noticed. She said that she does not believe that the day care center is in any way responsible for the boys’ deaths.
“The vehicle arrived at the facility at around … 5:30 and was dispatched to EMS at 17:40, which is 5:40 pm,” she explained. Local NBC affiliate WIS footage showed a black SUV being driven away from the scene.
Both parents were “very distraught,” Rutherford said during the press conference.
“We can’t talk about how or why the kids were left in the vehicle for so long, so I said if it was an unfortunate accident, we pray that the family rest in peace, but if it’s an unfortunate accident, we can’t talk about how or why.” It was a criminal act, we will help in getting justice for these children,” she said.
“It didn’t happen all of a sudden, and I think that’s the part that’s most upsetting, is that some harm must have happened to these kids, and that’s the part that breaks your heart,” she said.
The Richland County Sheriff’s Office confirmed today that no arrests have been made in the case and that the investigation is ongoing. The parents have not been publicly identified by law enforcement.
Rutherford told TODAY that he hopes other parents will be cautious about backseat checks to avoid a similar fate.
“We hope this is an example for parents to pay attention to when they get out of the car to make sure they actually drop their kids off,” she said on Monday.