A chest freezer in a Suwannee County, Florida backyard, not yet brought in the house nor plugged in, was where three very young children were found unresponsive Sunday evening. Efforts to resuscitate them were unsuccessful.
The children, not yet named, were a 6-year-old boy, a 4-year-old girl, and a 1-year-old girl; the boy and the baby are siblings, the 4-year-old girl lives in the home at 173 Place in Live Oak, with her mother. It’s reported the siblings are in the care of their grandmother. The boy was a Kindergarten student at Suwannee Primary School, it was reported. Neither the children nor their family members have been identified by police.
And while most people who have read about the tragedy on a sheriff’s Facebook post have shared their condolences, horror and grief, others are pointing fingers and laying lots of blame.
An investigation is underway.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Sunday Evening the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office Received a 911 Call About 3 Children ‘Not Breathing’
Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Deputies along with Suwannee County Fire Rescue personnel responded to the scene where they encountered family members performing CPR on the children. The three children were taken to a nearby hospital but the sheriff said, “unfortunately, all efforts to resuscitate the children were unsuccessful and all three children died.”
The SCSO said it requested the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to help process the scene.
The location in Live Oak is a rural area of north Florida half way between Tallahassee and Jacksonville off of I10.
2. Investigators Spoke With the Adults at the Home Who Said the Children Were Outside Playing in the Yard & Soon Were Missing
The sheriff’s investigators interviewed with all of the adults present at the home during this incident, and the preliminary investigation has revealed that the three children were “playing outside in the yard, when for unknown reasons they climbed inside of a chest freezer that had recently been brought to the residence but was not yet plugged in or brought inside, when the adult female went inside of the residence to use the restroom.”
It’s not known how long a period of time passed from when she left the kids and then returned, but when she did, she could not find the children.
“…she woke up the other adult female who was at home, sleeping, preparing to work the night shift, and they began to search the property and an adjacent vacant home for the children. When they opened the chest freezer, they discovered all three children inside of it, not breathing, and began resuscitative efforts and called 911.”
3. Investigators Found That the Freezer Had a Modified Lock so When the Kids Went in, ‘the Lid Closed & the Hasp Fell Shut Trapping’ Them Inside
“Upon further inspection of the freezer, an after-market, hasp had been installed on the lid in order to secure a padlock on it. It is believed at this time, that when the children entered the freezer, and the lid closed, the hasp fell shut, trapping the children inside. There was no padlock on the freezer,” the sheriff said.
4. No Foul Play is Suspected, But a State Investigation is Underway
The Florida Department of Children and Families was notified by the sheriff.
“The investigation is still ongoing, but at this time, foul play is not suspected. However, this case will be forwarded to the Third Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office for review,” the sheriff said.
It’s reported that the children will all undergo autopsies.
5. The Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office Facebook Page is Filled With Comments, Most Supportive & Offering Condolences. Many Others, Critical of the Children’s Caregivers
A top comment is simply this: “Let the parent who has never ever, ever taken his or her eyes off a child for even one second take a bow.”
Most are offers of prayers and support.
“Jumping to conclusions and casting blame is a natural instinct to make one feel like a tragedy could not happen to that person. It could, people. No matter how perfect and careful you think you are, you can not control everything. Horrible things do happen to good people. I am praying for the broken-hearted family and friends,” one person posted. The comment garnered the most likes on the post.