Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

3-year-old dies after being left in car in Tampa

TAMPA — With her three young cousins in tow, Rodline Rigby went to church Sunday.

One of the cousins shepherded the youngest boy inside to Sunday School. Rigby went into the adult chapel.

Ninety minutes later, after the services were over, they realized Hally, 3, was still in her car seat.

The little girl became the 43rd child to die nationwide this year from heat-related causes after being left in a vehicle, according to a car safety advocacy group.

Tampa police are still investigating but say it appears to be a tragic oversight.

Rigby was so hysterical she had to be taken to a psychiatric unit Sunday, her family said. She was released from the hospital Monday afternoon, according to police.

The 12-year-old boy who had remembered to bring in Hally's little brother, age 22 months, was also distraught, said another cousin.

"Yesterday, he was staring off into space, and he was shaking," said Mike Julien, 18. "He wouldn't eat nothing. We tried to tell him it's not his fault."

Hally's mother, Melissa Rozin, kept a stoney expression as she talked with reporters Monday. She's expecting her third child in a few months, and her family is concerned about her stress.

Rozin didn't want to talk about her daughter. Looking at the photos of the smiling little girl was hard enough for her.

But she said she doesn't blame Rigby for her daughter's death. Rozin she said she wanted to tell Rigby: "I know you love my kids. I still love you the same."

Rigby, 25, found Hally in the sport utility vehicle when she returned to it at 1:43 p.m. Sunday, after the service at Eben-ezer Baptist Haitian Church on Ninth Street near Ybor City, police said.

Church members rushed Hally inside and attempted CPR before paramedics took her to Tampa General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

At 1:30 p.m. Sunday, the temperature outside was 93 degrees, according to Bay News 9 meteorologists. After an hour, the temperature inside a closed vehicle can rise 40 to 50 degrees, according to national advocacy group Kids and Cars.

"After an hour, if the child even survives that long, it's intolerable," said the group's president, Janette Fennell. "Children heat up three to five times faster than adults. Their thermoregulatory systems aren't as developed."

According to police, Rigby apparently thought her 12-year-old cousin brought the little girl into the church, while the 12-year-old boy thought Rigby had looked after Hally.

The church's pastor, Jean Lubin, said toddlers can be placed in Sunday school, which is held in a separate room at the back of the sanctuary. Older children, like the 12-year-old boy, have their Sunday school in a separate building.

So neither cousin would have been with Hally during the service.

Lubin was in Orlando on Sunday and missed the service, but he said he drove back that afternoon so he could pray for and comfort Hally's family.

"It's a very, very tough situation for us," he said.

Hally's godmother, Rashelle Tragean, said Hally was a very smart little girl who could speak Haitian Creole, French and English. She often cared for her younger brother and would make sure her mom had everything she needed in her bag before they'd leave the house, Tragean said.

"We all wish that we're sleeping now and we're going to wake up," Tragean said. "But this is it."

She called her family's tragedy a "wake-up call for everybody." She wants people to be more mindful of their own children, as well as other people's kids.

She thinks that if someone else had looked in the SUV on Sunday, that person might have seen Hally and prevented this horrible accident.

"Sometimes we forget the most important things in life," she said. "Our baby's gone."

Times researcher John Martin and staff writer Danny Valentine contributed to this report.


Safety tips

. Never leave children alone in a vehicle, not even for a minute.

. Put something you'll need (a purse, cell phone, work ID) in the back seat near the child as a reminder.

. Get in the habit of opening the back door each time you park.

. Keep a large stuffed animal in the child's seat when it's not occupied. When you place the child in the seat, move the animal to the front passenger seat as a reminder.

. Make arrangements with the child's caregiver so that you will always be called if the child is not dropped off as scheduled.

. If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. If he or she looks sick, get the child out immediately and call 911.

For more information:

Source: Kids and Cars

3-year-old dies after being left in car in Tampa 09/13/10 [Last modified: Monday, September 13, 2010 11:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs have chance to beat Vikings in their third stadium


    Here's a cool sign that the Bucs are getting up there as an NFL franchise: If Tampa Bay can win Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, it will mark the first time the Bucs have posted road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.

    TIMES ARCHIVES (2012) | Bucs RB Doug Martin runs during Tampa Bay's 36-17 win at the Vikings in 2012, in what was then called Mall of America Field. If Tampa Bay wins Sunday, it will mark the first time they have road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.
  2. Memorial for Snooty the manatee, postponed because of Irma, to be held Sunday


    A public memorial to celebrate the life of 69-year-old Snooty the manatee will be held at the South Florida Museum on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

    Snooty , the world's most celebrated manatee, begs for another slice of apple in his pool in the Parker Manatee Aquarium at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton in 2008. Snooty was 60 then. [Times 2008]
  3. Residents wade through a flooded road after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Friday, September 22, 2017. Because of the heavy rains brought by Maria, thousands of people were evacuated from Toa Baja after the municipal government opened the gates of the Rio La Plata Dam. [Associated Press]
  4. NFL commissioner, players' union angrily denounce Trump comments on national anthem


    SOMERSET, N.J. — The National Football League and its players' union on Saturday angrily denounced President Donald Trump for suggesting that owners fire players who kneel during the national …

    President Donald Trump walks off the stage after he speaks at campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. [Associated Press]
  5. New earthquake, magnitude 6.1, shakes jittery Mexico


    MEXICO CITY — A strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday, causing new alarm in a country reeling from two still-more-powerful quakes this month that have killed nearly 400 people.

    Locals play pool at a venue in Mexico City's La Condesa neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, four days after the 7.1 earthquake. The upscale Mexico City neighborhood was one of the hardest hit, with more than a half-dozen collapsed buildings in the immediate vicinity. The few Condesa residents who ventured out Friday night said they were anxious for relief from an anguishing week. [Associated Press]