Mother, grandmother speak about 2-year-old's death in hot car

little girl 'loved to sing, loved to dance, loved to eat'

kward1@herald-leader.comJune 23, 2009 

  • Tips for preventing tragedy

    Put something you'll need, such as your cell phone, purse, employee ID, lunch or briefcase, in the back seat.

    Always open the back door of your vehicle when you reach your destination to make sure no child has been left behind.

    Keep a large teddy bear in the car seat when it's not occupied. When the child is placed in the seat, put the bear in the front passenger seat as a reminder that the child is in the back.

    Make arrangements with your day care or baby sitter that you will always call them if your child will not be there as scheduled. Ask them to phone you if your child doesn't show up when expected.

The maternal grandmother of a 2-year-old girl who died Saturday after being left in a hot car said she hopes others will learn from her family's tragedy.

"Just carelessness," Diane Meekins said of what led to the death of her granddaughter April Knight. "Maybe other parents will take heed."

April and her paternal grandparents — whose names authorities have not released — had spent Saturday at Jacobson Park. They returned to their home, 530 North Upper Street, to deal with an issue their 12-year-old daughter was having, Meekins said.

When they got there, they took the 12-year-old into the house and thought a 9-year-old relative was getting April out of the car. They discovered about two hours later that she had been left in the vehicle.

On Monday, Meekins and her daughter, Djauna Knight Edwards, April's mother, spoke about the girl's death.

"You can't imagine the pain," Edwards said. "Treasure your moments with your kids."

April lived in Madison, Wis., with her mother but had been visiting her father and his family in Lexington.

Meekins lives near April's paternal grandparents. "They took great care of her," Meekins said. "It was just something that happened."

She said the two families are close, and they met at the coroner's office Monday.

"We supported each other," Meekins said.

Police say they are investigating. The coroner's office issued a press release Monday saying that the cause of death is hyperthermia and that the case is being considered accidental.

Meekins said that on Saturday afternoon, her nephew came in and said, "April is dead." As she began to cross the field between Toner Street and North Upper, she saw police cars, "and I heard the ambulance, and I took off running."

When she got to the home, police were performing CPR. April was later taken to the University of Kentucky Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

April is one of 13 children nationally who have died in hot vehicles so far this year. Since 1998, 427 children have died in the same manner, according to Jan Null, an adjunct professor of meteorology at San Francisco State University.

In 51 percent of cases analyzed, the child was forgotten by a caregiver; children playing in an unattended vehicle accounted for 30 percent.

According to Null's research, the temperature inside a car can rise 29 degrees in 20 minutes. The outside temperature in Lexington Saturday afternoon was 89 degrees.

Edwards and Meekins remembered April as an energetic girl who carried three pacifiers — one in each hand and one in her mouth.

"Loved to sing, loved to dance, loved to eat," Meekins said.

At the same time April was dying, Edwards was playing with her 8-month-old in a pool. She said the baby kept leaning back, smiling up into the sky.

Edwards thinks she was watching her sister's spirit make her way to heaven.

"I don't know if God gives you signs, or instincts," Edwards said. "That was one of mine. ... Now I know why Millie was smiling."

Edwards identified April's father as Christopher Bellamy.

Arrangements for a memorial service were incomplete Monday at Fender Funeral Home.

Reach Karla Ward at (859) 231-3314 or 1-800 950-6397, Ext. 3314.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service