Two toddlers died and a third was hospitalized
after being found unresponsive inside a 114-degree abandoned car
where they apparently had been playing unsupervised, police said.
Authorities said Markeisha Jackson, who would have turned 2 later this month, died after being found unconscious shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday inside the black Honda Accord with her brother and one of their cousins.
The cousin, Mark Wagner Jr., who would have turned 2 next month, died later at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, nursing supervisor Debbie Hazlett confirmed. Markeisha's 2-year-old brother, Marcus Jackson Jr., was in critical condition there early today, another supervisor said.
Police were questioning the children's mothers, who are sisters living together, to pinpoint how long the youths were in the car and why the children were unsupervised by adults, police spokeswoman Adella Jones said. The children may have been left under the watch of older neighborhood children, police said.
"We don't have any idea right now what they were thinking," Jones said of the mothers.
The vehicle, which had expired temporary license plates, had been parked unlocked outside the mothers' home for several weeks and was last registered to someone in Centreville, Ill., Jones said.
Neighbors had reported seeing the children playing in the vehicle earlier Sunday.
Outdoor temperatures were in the mid-80s about the time the children were found unresponsive inside the car, a respite from local temperatures well into the 90s over the past month or so.
The case is the latest death involving a Missouri child left unattended inside blistering-hot vehicles.
‘Totally Preventable Incidents’
A week earlier, a 3-year-old southwest Missouri boy died after being left in a car for about an hour while his parents were in church. The boy's body temperature was 108.6 when he reached a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
A 19-month-old northeast Missouri girl died last month after being left in the family vehicle for hours in blazing summer heat as her father napped inside their home. On Aug. 2, the father was charged with involuntary manslaughter.
To Cardinal Glennon's Kathy Reznikov, Sunday's tragedies underscored the need for parents and other caregivers to remain constantly vigilant about the well-being of children when temperatures soar and idle vehicles are involved.
"These are totally preventable incidents," she said. "Children are our most precious gifts, and there is no appointment, no job, no situation more important than checking to make sure your child is in a safe environment.
"I'm not condemning anyone, because when someone has lost a child it's the worst they can go through. But how many children …"