Mother charged in death of toddler left in hot car after ‘miscommunication’

Chaya Shurkin

LAKEWOOD, N.J. — A 25-year-old New Jersey mother is facing criminal charges over the death of her toddler daughter in a hot car in May.

Prosecutors said Lakewood resident Chaya Shurkin was charged with endangering the welfare of a child, the Asbury Park Press reported.

Officers responding to a report of a child in distress at Shurkin’s residence on May 6 found a neighbor performing CPR on the 21-month-old, who died at a hospital later that day, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer said in a statement.

“A thorough and extensive investigation revealed that the child had been left alone in Shurkin’s motor vehicle for approximately two-and-one-half hours with the car turned off, in the heat,” he said.

Temperatures in the area reached 71 degrees that day.

“The investigation determined that the act of leaving the child in the car unattended for such a long period of time was the cause and manner of the child’s death,” the prosecutor said.

A law enforcement source told NBC 4 that Shurkin brought the girl home after she was taken to day care, but she refused to go inside, and “there was a miscommunication about whether the toddler’s mother or father would bring the toddler in from the car.”

ABC7 reported a record 52 children died in hot cars in the U.S. last year, according to the KidsAndCars.org nonprofit. (In Florida, an alert passerby spotted an 8-month-old who had been left in a hot car.)

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