Little boy dies after locking himself inside sweltering SUV, marking 9th hot car death this year

A Maryland boy who died Wednesday in South Carolina after reportedly locking himself in a hot car succumbed to complications of probable hyperthermia, officials confirmed Friday.

Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said Zion Akinrefon had wandered back into the family car after he and his relatives had gotten out. His mother discovered him unresponsive in the backseat after noticing he was missing, according to WLTX.

Paramedics performed CPR on Akinrefon and rushed him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to WIS.

A report stated that the 4-year-old was last seen watching television, then left the home through a side door. Citing officials, the news station reported that he possibly went back into the unlocked car to retrieve a toy or he wanted to go to the park.

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The State reported that Akinrefon was in South Carolina visiting relatives. Officials said criminal charges won’t be filed in this case, which Watts characterized as a “horrible, tragic accident.”

According to, Akinrefon is the ninth child to die of vehicular heatstroke this year.

“Let’s not let have this 4-year-old who lost his life this week life be in vain,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Friday while offering condolences to the boy’s family. “Let’s learn from [it].”

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[Featured image: Zion Akinrefon/Shives Funeral Home]