2 children die in separate hot-car-related incidents on same day

Two children in two states died on the same day last week after being left in hot cars.

Last Friday, a passerby found 22-month-old Milliani Robertson-Lawrence dead inside a hot minivan that was parked outside the PATCO Lindenwold station in Lindenwold, N.J., according to KYW-TV. A family friend told the station that she most likely suffocated.

"Once I got the call, I thought it was a joke," the girl's father, Nasir Lawrence, said. "I pretty much broken down and lost my mind.”

Lawrence, who had reportedly just gotten out of jail and was trying to get custody of his daughter, said Milliani's aunt and uncle had been taking care of her when he received the tragic news. Investigators believe that the girl may have been left in the car for at least eight hours.

"What did you do for eight hours that you forgot a 2-year-old? Exactly what were you doing at the PATCO station?" Lawrence asked. "You killed my daughter. You took her from me."

Prosecutors have yet to file charges in the case.

That same day, Mississippi police discovered a 21-month-old boy dead inside a hot car outside a children's daycare, WLBT reports.

Booneville authorities purportedly found the infant around 5 p.m. and are now collecting videos and statements. The child's identity was not released.

This year, 35 children have died as a result of being left in hot cars, according to KidsandCars.org. Last year, 52 children — a record number in the U.S. — died under similar circumstances, the National Safety Council (NSC) notes. Over 50 percent of those deaths occurred because a caregiver forgot the child in the vehicle, and nearly 30 percent of them were due to the child somehow gaining access to the car.

"NSC advises parents and caregivers to stick to a routine and avoid distractions to reduce the risk of forgetting a child," the organization said. "Place a purse, briefcase or even a left shoe in the back seat to force you to take one last look before walking away. Keep car doors locked so children cannot gain access, and teach them that cars are not play areas."

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