A 2-year-old boy died Tuesday after being left in a sport utility vehicle for more than five hours at a Brandon shopping center, authorities said.
The child's half-sister left him locked in her silver Chevy Equinox while she worked at a day care center in the Oak Park Plaza, at the corner of W Lumsden Road and Kings Avenue. She is now in custody as investigators consult with the state attorney's office about possible charges, said Hillsborough County sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon.
The woman, Fiorella Vanessa Silva-Tello, 21, left the child locked inside the vehicle at 9 a.m. when she went to work at BFF Kidz day care center. It wasn't until she walked to her car, parked about 50 feet away, hours later that she discovered Jacob Manchego unresponsive inside.
Witnesses told investigators Silva-Tello was distraught as she removed the boy from the vehicle and ran to a dialysis center in the shopping plaza, DSI South Tampa Renal Center.
Medical professionals at the renal center administered first aid to the boy until deputies and paramedics with Hillsborough County Fire Rescue arrived. Jacob was taken to Brandon Regional Hospital, where he later died.
Detectives were still interviewing Silva-Tello on Tuesday night, as well as employees at the day care center, which cares for children from 6 weeks to 12 years old. Child Protective Services and other investigators also will be looking into the family's history, McKinnon said. They will review any calls for service at 1702 Village Court in Brandon, where Silva-Tello lived with Jacob, her mother and other siblings.
"We're going to leave no stone unturned in making sure we know every single detail about what happened," McKinnon said.
While the child was inside the car the engine was not running and there was no air-conditioning, McKinnon said. Temperatures in the Tampa area reached the upper-80s Tuesday, tying records for this time of year.
"It doesn't take long for these cars to overheat, and a child is going to end up suffering from that heat in a relatively quick amount of time,'' said McKinnon, who said the child's parents have been notified.
Along with hand-painted rainbows, clouds and flowers, a sign posted at eye-level in the windows for the day care center reads: "Look before you lock. Never leave a child alone in a car."
Nevaldo Anderson stopped to look at the taped-off section of parking lot outside BFF Kidz on Tuesday after picking up his 8-year-old daughter Ariauna from a martial arts center nearby.
"I thought they were good people, very friendly and very knowledgeable, but it does make me a little concerned about leaving her there again," Anderson said of BFF Kidz, where his daughter has stayed after school on one occasion. "It's just very sad."
Parents picking up their children from the day care rushed them past reporters and crime scene tape.
"What happened here? What's going on?" one young girl asked reporters and deputies standing outside the center.
"Come on, let's hurry home," said a woman rushing the child to her car.
"Check the back seat, check your vehicles before you go inside — those campaigns have been throughout the country yet we continue to still see this tragic thing happen,'' McKinnon said. "This certainly should be a reminder of what we need to do when transporting our children.''
Contact Anastasia Dawson at (813) 226-3377 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @adawsonwrites.