The family of a Georgia toddler who was found dead in a car outside a fast food restaurant has spoken out, calling the tragedy an “accident.” The child’s mother believes that God “needed him more” than she did.
Kendrick Engram Jr., affectionately known as Junior, was just three years old when he died after being left in a hot SUV for around two and a half hours on Sunday June 26, according to the Daily Mail.
The youngster spent time with his grandmother Cassandra Thomas and seven cousins and after being out all day, he fell asleep in the back of the car.
The Sunday service in the church in the morning and various weekend errands that the grandmother had to do in the rest of the afternoon marked the day. The family frequented a few restaurants on Buena Vista Road and later went to the local Walmart on Victory Drive.
They met Junior’s mom, Yolanda Thomas, at the Walmart, where she worked around 3 p.m., hoping to take advantage of a discount on girls’ clothing.
Mom said of the last time she saw her son alive, “He was in the stroller and I said Junior get up and he woke up and went back to sleep.”
After leaving the retail giant, the lot went home. When the children were ordered out of the vehicle, Junior was in the third row of seats in a Nissan SUV, still asleep. No one noticed that he stayed in the car when they closed the door at around 5:30 p.m. and went into the grandmother’s house
As the hours passed and around 8:15 p.m., the grandmother realized Junior was missing when her daughter stopped by to take him home.
Recalling the day, the devastated Thomas said in an interview: “When my daughter got home from work she called and said she was out and my grandchild came over and asked me where Junior was and I told her he should be there, the house is sleeping.” But he wasn’t.
As she walked back, she thought about the car she no longer owned. She had lent her son the car so he could run an ice cream shop.
At 8:30 p.m., the uncle was in the Wendy’s parking lot and saw that the child in the back seat was unresponsive.
Junior was pronounced dead just after 9 p.m., with Muscogee County coroner Buddy Bryan reportedly saying the original cause of death was asphyxiation from being left in the hot SUV.
According to the National Weather Service, the temperature that day was the highest at 96 degrees and the lowest at 90 degrees.
Bryan said, “Everyone went inside except the little boy.”
“Grandmother went into the bedroom,” he explained further. “The other kids went to the kitchen area to eat. Then the kids would go in and out and play… just like kids.”
The boy’s death is the second child in Georgia to die in a hot vehicle this year and the seventh nationwide, according to USA Today. All of these deaths were accidental, like Junior’s.
Yolonda doesn’t blame her mother, saying, “I feel like it was an accident. It was just that God probably needed him more than I did.”
While she sees no guilt, the law might. Some media reports suggest police are deciding whether to charge anyone in Junior’s death.
In the meantime, the family are planning a balloon launch in honor of his life at 6pm on Saturday 2 July at Wendy’s on Wynnton Road.
The family started GoFundMe for his funeral and funeral, describing him on the website as “energetic, loving and full of life!”
After his death, he mourns the loss of his parents, Yolanda and Kendrick Engram Sr., and six sisters and brothers.
Bryan gives this advice to parents and caregivers of young children: “Be aware. Be aware. If you are an adult, be responsible.”
“The children are innocent,” Bryan continued. “You can’t help yourself, and if you have a child that puts the responsibility on you.”
https://atlantablackstar.com/2022/06/30/toddler-dies-after-being-left-in-grandmothers-suv-for-almost-three-hours-in-90-degree-weather/ 3-year-old dies in hot car after being left in grandmother’s SUV; Uncle discovers body in Wendy’s drive-thru