When Ohio resident Crystal Lucas saw police pull up to her neighbor’s home on Friday, she knew something was terribly wrong.
Lucas told ABC30 that her neighbor, a single mom, had two young children and she often spotted them playing outside alone — even in the cold Akron weather. She said:
“It was freezing and that was my biggest worry when the cops came. When they started asking about the kids, they didn’t divulge what was really going on, but when he asked about the kids, obviously something was going on and I was worried.”
Sure enough, Lucas’ fears were realized when police confirmed a toddler was found “frozen” on her neighbor’s porch.
According to Fox 8, police responded to the residence around 3:30 p.m. after the mother said she found her 2-year-old daughter “outside in the cold on the front porch.”
Authorities had guided the panicked mom through CPR over the phone, after she said the child appeared “frozen.” But sadly, the toddler didn’t make it.
The little girl was taken to Akron Children’s Hospital where she later died, Fox 8 reports. Lucas was heartbroken when she heard what happened just next door.
She told ABC 30:
“I cried because I just don’t understand how a 2-year-old could be outside and you not know.”
But apparently, it wasn’t uncommon to see the neighbor’s children wandering outside, Lucas said:
“I’ve had to take the baby home ’cause she’ll be outside playing. It was a few times that I had to take both of her kids home.”
The weather on Friday was between 12 and 19 degrees, according to ABC 30.
According to Save the Children, young children lose body heat more quickly because of their small size, making them more prone to the dangers of cold temperatures.
They are also less likely to notice when they’ve lost body heat, so parents should keep an eye out for warning signs of hypothermia. Some symptoms include, as Medical News Today reports:
- Slurred speech
- Shallow breathing
- Weak pulse
Police have yet to release the name of the toddler in the case, pending family notification.
Update [2/6/18, 11:24 a.m. EST]:
According to WRAL, the toddler allegedly wandered outside while under the supervision of her father. She went outside when he fell asleep after working a night shift.
The mother was not home at the time of the incident and came home to find the child on the porch.