ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A 34-year-old woman was charged in the death of a toddler who was left in a hot car for almost eight hours earlier this month, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said Monday afternoon.
Deputies said they were called to a home on Indian Hill Road on Sept. 11 after 20-month-old Jace Leslie was discovered dead in a rear-facing car seat.
Investigators said they arrested Dougkindra Chanel Wallace on charges of aggravated manslaughter of a child and neglect of a child.
An arrest report said Wallace was regularly paid to drive Jace to and from day care on days that his mother was working.
The report said Wallace picked up Jace from his home at 7:30 a.m., dropped off her own child to a babysitter and drove to Rolling Hills Elementary School, where she teaches third grade.
Wallace left the car running while she walked to the front office to have her temperature checked, the report said.
Investigators said she returned to the car to move it to the teacher’s parking lot and then turned off the vehicle and entered the school.
After clocking out for the day, Wallace returned to the vehicle, dropped off a textbook to a student’s house and drove to Jace’s day care, where she noticed he was still buckled in his car seat, deputies said.
“At the time Dougkindra Wallace should have driven to Jace’s day care (when she left her own child’s day care), it should have only taken approximately five to six minutes to drive there,” the report said. “During transport, Dougkindra Wallace was on the phone and likely distracted, passing Jace’s day care and driving instead to her place of employment.”
Investigators said the heat index reached 105 degrees that day.
“Our thoughts are with baby Jace’s family,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Cox Media Group