The boy, who was left for as many as seven hours, is the 40th child to die so far in 2019 in a hot car, reports a child safety organization

By Jeff Truesdell
September 06, 2019
Hot Car Mug Shot
Credit: PIneville Police Department

A North Carolina woman who was “in shock” as authorities tried to revive the lifeless 1-year-old foster child she’d left for several hours in a hot car has been charged with the boy’s involuntary manslaughter, according to a warrant for her arrest.

Police say 42-year-old Dawn Aberson-Vanden Broecke meant to drop off the child at day care on her way to work, but left him strapped into his safety seat in the backseat of her vehicle around 10 a.m. August 29 as she reported to her job.

The foster mom returned to her vehicle around 5 p.m. with the intent to go pick up the boy, but on the way realized he was still in the car and pulled into a Lowe’s store parking lot to check on him, according to her arrest warrant, reports WBTV.

She then called 911 to report the child unresponsive, telling arriving officers that when she checked on him, she “knew that he looked bad, possibly deceased,” according to the warrant.

Audio of a call routed to Pineville police from Charlotte-Mecklenburg police reveals a dispatcher saying, “female caller left her child in a car all day, now stating her child is dead.”

The warrant states she was “emotionless” as authorities tried to revive the child, but Lt. Corey Copley of the Pineville, North Carolina, police department tells PEOPLE, “I can imagine she was in shock. She was clearly upset.”

Pineville police described the incident in a news release as a “very unfortunate death.”

The foster mom “was cooperative with us, and has been the entire time,” says Copley.

The child’s cause of death was ruled as hyperthermia due to environmental exposure by the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner’s Office, PEOPLE confirms.

On Wednesday, as arranged with police, Broecke turned herself in for booking at the Mecklenburg County jail. An attorney who might speak on her behalf was not immediately named.

“Small children and infants are more sensitive to heat, and this sensitivity causes their body temperature to increase three to five times faster than adults,” Pineville police posted in an alert on the agency’s website. “This, combined with temperature increases that occur inside a car when the temperature outside is as low as 70 degrees, can cause dangerous conditions for children in minutes.”

“Studies show that of the child deaths in cars, more than a third of these were the result of a child accidentally left in a closed, parked vehicle by parents or caregivers, and another third were trapped while playing unattended in a vehicle,” according to the alert. “Sadly, one in five children who died was intentionally left in the vehicle by an adult who ran a quick errand.”

Forty children so far have lost their lives in 2019 as a result of hot car deaths, reports the child safety organization Kids and Cars.