Police say 4-year-old died after accidentally locking self in hot car

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4-Year-Old Dies After Accidentally Locking Self in Hot Car

A 4-year-old boy died after he was locked in a hot car in Columbia, South Carolina, according to the Richland County Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff Leon Lott and county coroner Gary Watts announced the first hot car death in the county in four years at a Friday news conference.

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The Associated Press reported that Watts said Zion Akinrefon, of Maryland, was pronounced dead Wednesday at a hospital from complications of probable hyperthermia. He was taken to the hospital after paramedics were not able to revive him.

Zion was in South Carolina visiting relatives. He was found by his mother in the back of his family's vehicle. WIS reported that the boy's family believe he got out of the family's home through a side door, climbed into the family's SUV, and accidentally locked himself inside.

Charges have not been filed so far, Lott said. The State reported that the incident is being treated as an accident.

"Parents can be preoccupied, especially if they're working or they got a lot going on, things can change," Watts said at the Friday news conference. "If something happens as minor as a type of change in their regular schedule, they don't typically take the child to day school or they do typically take the child to day school, those changes, it can throw them off.

“So It’s a matter of being hyper-vigilant to make sure that you check in your vehicle when you have a child, period, whether you’ve taken that child somewhere or not. Just always make it a habit to check the back seat.”

The State reported that Lott and Watts empathized the importance of keeping cars locked so that children can't enter them unattended in the first place.