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Parents charged after leaving baby in hot car overnight after July 4 party in Lakeland

hot car deaths car seat
Posted at 2:28 PM, Jul 06, 2023

LAKELAND, Fla. — Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd described the death of an 18-month-old child who was left in a hot car overnight after a Fourth of July party in Lakeland as tragic.

In a news conference, Sheriff Judd said Jazmine Rondon, 33, and Joel Rondon, 33, went to a Fourth of July party in Downtown Lakeland with their children. The family left the party around 2 a.m. and then went to their home in north Lakeland with their three kids, a 8-year-old, an 6-year-old and an 18-month-old.

Jazmine told Joel to bring the 18-month-old inside from the car while she brought the older two kids in and got them ready for bed. Officials said Joel started unloading the car and noticed one of the car doors was open. When he came out after bringing items into the house, all the car doors were closed, and he assumed Jazmine got the 18-month-old out.

According to PCSO, the couple went to sleep around 3 a.m., and neither confirmed if the 18-month-old was brought inside.

Deputies said Joel woke around 10 a.m. and started getting ready for work. Around 11 a.m., he asked one of the other children to check on the baby, and they noticed the baby was missing. After looking for the baby, Joel went outside and saw the baby still strapped inside the car seat, unresponsive.

"She’s not old enough to let herself out of the harness, but she's certainly old enough to realize that she is suffering, a torturous death at the negligence of Joel and Jazmine," said Judd.

Joel and Jazmine brought the baby to Lakeland Regional, but despite their best efforts, they could not revive the baby, and she was declared dead.

"After the body being cooled down, the baby still had a core temperature of 104.4 degrees. This was three hours after the baby was taken out of the hot car,” Judd said.

PCSO said Joel and Jazmine were tested for drugs around 7 p.m. on July 5 by the Department of Children and Families. Joel tested positive for meth, marijuana and alcohol. Jazmine tested positive for marijuana and alcohol.

PCO charged both Joel and Jazmine with aggravated manslaughter of a child.

Watch the full press conference below.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd holds a press conference, 07/06