A Florida woman was criminally charged Monday in connection with the death of a 20-month-old boy who was reportedly left in a hot vehicle weeks earlier.
Orange County police arrested elementary school teacher Dougkindra Wallace, 34, on charges of aggravated manslaughter of a child and neglect of a child in connection with Jace Leslie’s September 11 death.
Leslie’s mother regularly paid Wallace to drive Leslie to a daycare in Pine Hills. On the day in question, she had dropped off her own child at a babysitter and drove to the elementary school where she worked — forgetting to take Leslie to his daycare and leaving him in her car for eight hours, according to WFTV.
After leaving work, Wallace reportedly dropped off a textbook at a student’s home before driving to the Pine Hills daycare, presumably believing she brought Leslie there that morning. Wallace got to the daycare at around 3:45 p.m. It was then when she found the toddler dead in a rear-facing car seat in her vehicle, according to reports.
Daycare employees were seen attempting to resuscitate Leslie in the front yard. The boy’s mother arrived roughly 30 minutes later.
An arrest report noted that the third-grade teacher left the car running while she had her temperature checked at Rolling Hills Elementary School’s front office that morning. After that, she reportedly returned to her vehicle, drove to the teacher’s parking lot, turned off the car, and entered the school at around 7:55 a.m.
The Orlando Sentinel reported that for 10 months, Leslie’s mother paid Wallace $80 a month to take her son to daycare on days she was working.
“At the time Dougkindra Wallace should have driven to Jace’s daycare (when she left her own child’s daycare), it should have only taken approximately five to six minutes to drive there,” the arrest report stated.
“During transport, Dougkindra Wallace was on the phone and likely distracted, passing Jace’s day care and driving instead to her place of employment.”
The heat index reached 105 degrees the day Leslie was reportedly left in the car.
According to No Heat Stroke, Leslie is the 22nd child to die in a hot car this year. In 2019, 52 children died of vehicular heatstroke.
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[Featured image: Dougkindra Wallace/Orange County Jail]