Child left in car dies, likely due to heat says Greenville Co. Coroner

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GREENVILLE CO., SC (WSPA) – An 18-month-old died after he was left in a car outside a Greenville County home last week. 

While the autopsy report is still pending, Greenville County Coroner Parks Evans tells 7News the toddlers death is “most likely heat related.”

The Greenville County Coroner’s Office says Joe Avery James Lockaby was visiting his grandmother’s house on Rogers Ave., in Greenville County. The child was found unresponsive, by his grandmother, after being left in the car for an unknown period of time. 

Crista Mcelhannon tells 7News her toddler’s death is a “freak accident.” She says what happened to her baby was not intentional. 

“It’s a pain like no other,” Mcelhannon said. 

Mcelhannon says May 31, 2018, started as any other day. Her 18-month-old was set to spend the night at his grandmother’s house, which wasn’t unusual. 

“She’s done it time and time again… before,” she said. 

Mcelhannon says everything was fine until Lockaby and his grandmother arrived at the home on Rogers Avenue that afternoon. 

“She actually had something medically that happened to her that day, that caused the whole incident and she was in no way at fault.” Mcelhannon told 7News. 

Mcelhannon says the child’s grandmother fainted, leaving the toddler in the hot car unattended. She says her son was strapped into the car seat unable to get out, even if he could. When Lockaby’s grandmother finally recovered, it was too late. 

“We knot it was for an extended period of time, but right now we are trying to determine exactly how long.” Evans said. “But we know that the temperature that day got up to the upper 80’s.” 

The coroner says his grandmother took him out of the vehicle and tried to bring down his temperature, but was unsuccessful. 

A cause of death will be determined once the autopsy, performed on June 1, is complete. “Right now we are leaning towards heat related problems,” Evans told 7News. 

“All of it feels like a bad dream that I’m going to wake up from,” Mcelhannon said. 

The child was pronounced dead at the scene around 5:00 p.m. on May 31, 2018. 

The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office and the coroner’s office are investigating. The Department of Social Services was notified of the incident.

Mcelhannon says she’s making funeral arrangements for her son, who will be laid to rest something next week. 

Lockaby’s family has set a GoFundme page to raise money for funeral expenses. 

If you wish to help, click or tap here

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