The sweltering summer sun boosted temperatures in Jacksonville into the 90-degree range Wednesday afternoon.
And while the heat was at its most oppressive, a 2-year-old boy was sitting unattended in a truck.
Police said the child, Bernard Davis, died after his unlicensed baby-sitter didn’t come back for him for two hours.
His caretaker, 38-year-old Shantel Wilcher, was charged with providing false information during a felony investigation after authorities said she tried to hide that she was operating an unlicensed day care
. The State Attorney’s Office will decide whether charges will be filed in the child’s death.
Sgt. Derrick Lewis of the Sheriff’s Office said Wilcher was watching her own two teens and two toddlers — 2- and 3-year-old siblings — at a home in the 8100 block of Chaucer Court. She took them all to a store about 12:30 p.m. and got back an hour later. All but the 2-year-old boy were taken inside.
She realized about two hours later that Davis was missing, Lewis said. She brought him back in and tried CPR, but the boy was unresponsive. It wasn’t known if the windows in the truck were up or down.
Florida Department of Children and Families spokesman John Harrell said child-welfare investigators had been to the residence before.
He said a complaint was lodged against Wilcher Family Daycare Home in March 2007 for inadequate supervision. A similar complaint was filed in January, but it was against a company operating under a different name — Teeter Tikes — at the same address.
A Web site that compiles profiles for small businesses listed Future Leaders Childcare Inc. as operating out of the address. The only contact listed was Wilcher, but the phone number was disconnected.
Harrell said it’s illegal to leave a child younger than 6 years old unsupervised in a car for 15 minutes or more.
Meteorologist Jason Deese of the National Weather Service said it was about 90 degrees during the two hours the child was in the car.
Jan Null, an adjunct professor of meteorology at San Francisco State University, said at those temperatures, with the windows closed, the air inside the vehicle would’ve been hotter than 130 degrees.
Ricky Grant and his family and neighbors watched as the child’s limp form, which was wrapped in white sheets, was removed from the home by medical examiners.
“There’s no way you can let a child out of your sight, especially if you’ve got a day care,” Grant said. “You got to be on your toes. My heart hurts for that baby’s mama.”
This is the fifth similar child death in Florida this year, and the second on the First Coast in the past two weeks.
On June 14 in St. Johns County, Omar Long told investigators he drove his wife to work and returned home, but didn’t realize she had put their 1-year-old daughter in the car. Long, 30, went to sleep, and later another adult became worried and started looking for the baby. The car’s running engine led her to look inside, where the child was found dead nearly five hours later. No charges have been filed.