Police arrested a Largo father on Thursday in connection to the death of his 8-month-old baby boy.
Around 12:30 p.m. Largo police responded to assist Pinellas County Child Protection Investigators with a welfare check of two children at the King's Manor Mobile Home Park on 1399 South Belcher Road. When they arrived, they found an 8-month-old boy who was unresponsive due to extreme heat in the mobile home. Emergency personnel immediately began CPR on the baby. The baby boy was pronounced dead at the scene.
Largo Police detectives began to investigate the circumstances that lead to the baby's death. Probable cause lead to the arrest of the children's father, 25-year-old William Francis Hendrickson, of Largo.
Hendrickson has been charged with Aggravated Manslaughter in the death of his son and Child Neglect for the condition of his 2-year-old daughter, who was transported to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg due to severe dehydration.
According to detectives, Hendrickson had been previously told by social services not to leave the children in the hot environment of the bedroom. Detectives recorded the temperature in the mobile home's bedroom at 109-degrees at 1 p.m. on Thursday afternoon.
Police say the air conditioning unit for their room wasn't working, the one in the living room barely cooling the rest of the home. Another in the grandparent's room did work.
Hendrickson was arrested on Thursday night just before 5:30 p.m.
A judge kept Hendrickson's bond at $150,000 on Friday and says if he gets out, he cannot have contact with his 2-year-old daughter unless given permission by somene at the Dept. of Children and Families.
Largo police say they responded to a disturbance call the day before, after Hendrickson's mother reported concern about her son's behavior during an argument about the children's care.
They say the kids appeared to be in good health at the time.
A representative for the DCF says there were three previous investigations regarding the family and they were currently receiving services from a provider contracted by Eckerd Kids as a result of an investigation earlier this year.
DCF Secretary Mike Carroll issued the following statement on Friday:
"The circumstances surrounding this baby's death are horrible and we are devastated by this loss. The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office will deploy a Critical Incident Rapid Response Team to review all interactions this family has had with Florida's child welfare system. We will also support law enforcement in any way appropriate to hold anyone responsible fully accountable."
The Largo Police would like to remind citizens of the dangers of Florida's high temperatures in confined or poorly ventilated spaces, especially for children, the elderly, and those with special medical concerns. Be aware of the signs of dehydration, heat stress, and heat stroke and take steps to prevent them.