Deputies arrest Florida teacher in death of boy left in hot car

She was arrested on charges of aggravated manslaughter and neglect of a child.
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Check for the latest breaking news and updates. [ Times ]
Published Sept. 22, 2020

ORLANDO — An Orlando elementary school teacher is accused of manslaughter in the death of a toddler she left in her car while she worked earlier this month, sheriff’s officials said.

Orange County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Dougkindra Wallace, 34, Monday in charges of aggravated manslaughter and neglect of a child.

Wallace, a third grade teacher at Rolling Hills Elementary School in Orlando, regularly drove Jace Leslie, 20 months, to and from his day care provider’s home on days that his mother worked, the Orlando Sentinel reported. The boy’s mother paid her $80 a month for the arrangement, and Wallace had been driving the boy for about 10 months.

On the morning of Sept. 11, Wallace picked up Jace from his home about 7:30 a.m., according to an arrest warrant. The toddler sat next to Wallace’s son in the back seat. She dropped her son off at his babysitter’s house 10 minutes later, and then made a phone call while driving to her school.

Jace was left in the car, which she left running, while she got her temperature checked at the school’s front office, the warrant said. Wallace then parked in the teacher’s parking lot and turned off the car. Jace was left inside in a back-facing car seat when she got out and went into the school about 7:55 a.m.

Wallace returned to the car about 3:21 and drove to Jace’s day care facility to pick him up, the warrant said.

She exited her car around 7:55 a.m. and did not return until 3:21 p.m., the warrant said. She drove to the home where Jace stayed, not realizing he was still inside her car.

Neighbors told deputies they heard a woman screaming outside the home before running from the car and falling to the ground outside the home.

National Weather Service data shows temperatures hovered around 90 degrees that day, and detectives noted the heat index was around 105 degrees,, the Sentinel reported.

Investigators said Wallace was “likely distracted” by her phone conversation while driving, which caused her to forget to drop off the boy.

Orange County school district officials said Wallace was on administrative leave. A phone number for Wallace was not immediately available.