S T. L O U I S, Aug. 13, 2001 -- 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 2later this month, died after being found unconscious shortly after2 p.m. Sunday inside the black Honda Accord with her brother andone of their cousins.
The cousin, Mark Wagner Jr., who would have turned 2 next month,died later at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, nursingsupervisor Debbie Hazlett confirmed. Markeisha's 2-year-oldbrother, Marcus Jackson Jr., was in critical condition there earlytoday, another supervisor said.
Police were questioning the children's mothers, who are sistersliving together, to pinpoint how long the youths were in the carand why the children were unsupervised by adults, policespokeswoman Adella Jones said. The children may have been leftunder 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, hadbeen parked unlocked outside the mothers' home for several weeksand was last registered to someone in Centreville, Ill., Jonessaid.
Neighbors had reported seeing the children playing in thevehicle earlier Sunday.
Outdoor temperatures were in the mid-80s about the time thechildren were found unresponsive inside the car, a respite fromlocal temperatures well into the 90s over the past month or so.
The case is the latest death involving a Missouri child leftunattended inside blistering-hot vehicles.
‘Totally Preventable Incidents’
A week earlier, a 3-year-old southwest Missouri boy died afterbeing left in a car for about an hour while his parents were inchurch. The boy's body temperature was 108.6 when he reached ahospital where he was pronounced dead.
A 19-month-old northeast Missouri girl died last month afterbeing left in the family vehicle for hours in blazing summer heatas her father napped inside their home. On Aug. 2, the father wascharged with involuntary manslaughter.
To Cardinal Glennon's Kathy Reznikov, Sunday's tragediesunderscored the need for parents and other caregivers to remainconstantly vigilant about the well-being of children whentemperatures soar and idle vehicles are involved.
"These are totally preventable incidents," she said."Children are our most precious gifts, and there is noappointment, no job, no situation more important than checking tomake sure your child is in a safe environment.
"I'm not condemning anyone, because when someone has lost achild it's the worst they can go through. But how many children…"