MEDINA, Ohio — Investigators say a two-year-old girl and her sister, who wandered into a parked car late Thursday, were supposed to be supervised by the girls’ 12-year-old cousin and her 13-year-old friend.
Medina County sheriff’s deputies were summoned to a home on Columbia Road in York Township by the girls’ grandfather Thursday evening.
On his 911 call, the grandfather told authorities he had not seen the girls for about two hours and believed they were asleep inside the house.
Chief Medina County Deputy Kenneth Baca tells Fox 8 News the babysitters last saw the little girls inside the house.
“They said they were sitting there playing in the living room and they had taken their eyes off of them, and shortly thereafter they realized they were missing,” Baca said.
The grandfather’s 911 call was made after they had searched the house.
Deputies notified neighbors who joined in a 45 minute search.
It ended after one of the neighbors noticed the passenger door to her car was ajar and found the girls in her front seat.
Chief Baca was first to get to the car, where three-year-old Mary McCormick was still breathing, but her two-year-old sister Justina McCormick, 2, had died.
“It’s hard to say how long they had been in the car. I think it’s a fair statement to say that given the 45 minute time element, the time of our arrival, the time we had discovered them at the resident next door — it was pretty close to an hour and a half,” Baca explains.
Doctors say the temperature inside a car can rise to dangerous levels in only about fifteen minutes.
“Our normal body temperature is about 98.6 degrees and when they are exposed to external heat and in a situation within a car where they cant escape it, again it takes very little time for that to happen when their own body temperature rises,” said Dr. Tim Lee of Children’s Hospital in Akron.
Using a digital remote thermometer in similar sunny conditions on Friday, Fox 8 news showed viewers how within just fifteen minutes the temperature inside a news car rose to over 145 degrees.
Chief Baca says the car in which the girls were found was sitting in full sun.
As of Friday afternoon, the three-year-old girl remains in critical condition at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.
“Its very tragic and needless to say, you know life is a valuable commodity, you cannot put a price tag on,” said Baca.
“As a parent and a professional law enforcement officer, my heart goes out to the parents and the people that were in that home when this occurred because it certainly wasn’t the intent of anyone there for this to happen,” he added.
Investigators are still working to piece together an accurate timeline of what happened.