CAROLINA BEACH, N.C. – A mother who left her 9-month-old son in a hot car for more than 8-hours causing his death will not be charged says a local prosecutor.
Jefferson Wilkins’ body was found in his car seat in his mother’s SUV after she went to his Wilmington daycare on May 25 and she was stunned to find out he wasn’t there.
The May 25 hot-car death of Jefferson Brady Wilkins was a “perfect storm” brought about by a change in daily routine, and not borne from criminal negligence, New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David said Friday during a news conference in Carolina Beach.
“The case before us was the result of an accident — the perfect storm of circumstances arising from a change of routine, sleep deprivation and outright forgetfulness,” David said, announcing no charges will be filed against Wilmington mother Nancy Toni Byrd-Wilkins in the death of her 9-month-old son.
David’s declaration came more than four weeks after Jefferson was found dead inside his mother’s black SUV when she arrived at his daycare center to pick him up.
The investigation revealed that on the morning of Jefferson’s death, Wilkins woke with the baby at 3:30 a.m., before going back to sleep, only to wake later and take him to a doctor’s appointment for a checkup.
Her husband Jeremy Wilkins, a Wilmington real estate attorney, dropped off the couple’s 4-year-old son at the Pax Natura daycare on Wilshire Boulevard.
Following the doctor’s appointment, Nancy Wilkins put her baby in the car and then drove to the same drive-thru coffee shop she went to every morning, David said. It appears that was where she inadvertently slipped into her normal routine.
Wilkins left the shop and drove directly to work at the Ivy Cottage. Business records show she clocked in at 9:36 a.m.
Her black SUV, with the baby inside, was parked for eight hours. The outside temperature on May 25 reached 86 degrees. Experts say the internal temperature of a vehicle can reach 135 degrees within 20 minutes in that kind of weather.
At 5:17 p.m., Wilkins clocked out of work and drove the 2.2 miles to Pax Natura. When she asked the daycare workers for her baby, they told her he’d never been there.
“Mrs. Wilkins told officers that she initially believed her son had been kidnapped. She then ran out to her car and discovered that the child was still in the vehicle,” David said.
‘Baby in the car’
Her horrifying realization was captured on the recording of her call to 911.
Most of what she said was lost in her shrieks — except for four words — “baby in the car.”
Bystanders tried to help. A Time Warner Cable employee broke out the back window of the SUV with a crow bar and crawled inside. Someone outside managed to get the door open. They pulled Jefferson’s tiny body from his rear-facing car seat situated behind the driver’s seat. A daycare worker, who also called 911, tried to perform CPR. When she realized it was futile, she too dissolved into wails.
The cause of death was determined to be “death by hyperthermia due to environmental exposure/accident.”
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