Toddler found frozen to death feet from door of her New Hampshire home

A New Hampshire toddler was tragically found dead outside of her family home early on Monday morning amid sub-zero temperatures.

Authorities in the small town of Newport say that 2-year-old Sofia Van Schoick somehow managed to leave the apartment on her own Sunday night and "was not able to regain entry," the Associated Press reports. 

Police received multiple 911 calls around 7:10 a.m. about the child, who was found lifeless at the bottom of a set of porch stairs wearing just her nightgown in temperatures as low as 8 degrees below zero. First responders declared the child dead at the scene, and a preliminary autopsy suggested she died of exposure to the elements combined with hypothermia.

Newport Police Chief Jim Burroughs said the girl's death is not being treated as suspicious and that the situation "appears to be a bad accident."

The girl's family was first alerted to the situation by their neighbors, Shane Rowe and Stephanie MacIntyre, according to WMUR.

Rowe said that he and his girlfriend had woken up around 4 a.m. to the sound of crying, but after looking out their window and failing to see anything, they went back to sleep. 

The couple awoke again at 6 a.m. to get their children ready for school and about an hour later, Rowe looked out his second-story window and saw Sofia’s body.

"I saw a little girl next to the bottom of the stairway," he told the station. "I said to myself, 'I hope that's a doll.'"

"(MacIntyre) came out, and she ran out and she went over and saw that she was actually a child," he continued. "She banged on the door to alert the parents."

Rowe said the victim's mother, Courtney Van Schoick, rushed outside, scooped the lifeless girl up, wrapped her in a blanket and called police, but it was already too late to save her.

Lindsey Van Schoick, Sofia's grandfather, said that his family had just moved into the Newport apartment from their home in Claremont, N.H., a week ago and that his granddaughter did know her way around the home yet. He also said the front door leading outside was easy to open and that the family had not had time to install deadbolts, Valley News reports.

The toddler's bereaved mother, who is currently expecting another child, remembered her daughter as "the happiest and smartest toddler you would have ever met."

"She’s so loved and missed," she told Valley News.

Sofia is also survived by her twin brother, Camden.

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