BAKER COUNTY, Florida. – A Baker County family is heartbroken after police say their nanny left their 10-month-old girl in a hot SUV for five hours, resulting in her death.
Rhonda Jewell, 46, has been charged with negligent manslaughter.
News4JAX spoke to several of the baby’s relatives, who were too upset and shocked by the incident to comment on camera. They said that the child had phenomenal parents who did everything right with their baby. They also stated that the child’s death was the result of negligence and neglect on the part of the nanny.
CONNECTED: ‘Not only preventable, but also predictable’: safety experts explain why children are left in overheated cars
Rhonda Jewell, 46, charged with aggravated manslaughter of child (News4JAX)
In McCleney, the news of the infant’s death shocked and upset the residents, especially after they learned that the man accused of abandoning the baby was her nanny.
“It just makes me really angry,” Isabella Holloway said.
“It makes you wonder who you leave your kids with,” Ashley Demers said.
“It’s sad what other parents go through. Loss of a baby. I couldn’t imagine,” said Brittany Lotz.
“It really crushes me because I went through seven years of infertility to have a baby. And there are children with whom this happens. It’s very sad,” said Misty Beebe.
Jewell said she took the infant from the orphanage and drove to the home on Estates Street, where she was supposed to babysit the homeowner’s four children, investigators said. She said the baby was still asleep when she arrived, so she went inside to chat with the four children who were waiting for her. But she said that while inside, she completely forgot that she had left the baby inside her SUV.
“Even if you interact with other children, doesn’t it cross your mind that I miss my child? I just picked up this guy, where is he or she? Lotz said.
Investigators say the infant’s mother arrived at the house five hours later to pick up her child when she noticed her young daughter was still inside the SUV. Doctors took the girl to the hospital, where she died. Jewell was then arrested.
Jewell was released from prison, and a group of people gathered outside her house. News4JAX wanted to try and talk to her to get her side of the story, but someone parked a car in the driveway to block her.
The gray SUV in the driveway matches the description of the SUV in which the child was left. The woman who saw paramedics take the child away said the car was covered in tape from the crime scene while detectives were investigating.
According to the medical staff, the internal body temperature of the child at the time of death was at least 110 degrees, and the outside temperature was about 90 degrees.
Copyright 2023 by WJXT News4JAX – All rights reserved.