Trigger Warning: This report contains details of the accidental deaths of minors that readers may find disturbing
In a tragic incident, a 3-year-old was found dead beside her 15-month-old sister in the back of their mother's car. Initially, the 21-year-old mother, Kaylee Petchenik, assumed her kids were missing when she did not find them at home. The Arkansas resident was inside the house taking a nap when the incident seemed to have occurred. But according to Arkansas State Police, the death of 3-year-old Laykn seems to have been because of the heat in the car, reported 5News Online . The investigation is still ongoing. Meanwhile, 15-month-old Olivia is still in the hospital and is in a critical condition.
“I was sitting out of my porch around 11 o’clock and my neighbor Kaylee, the mom has came outside and looked concerned and worried and she came up to and asked if I had seen her kids," neighbor Matthew Wood said. "The mother works night shifts. She was asleep, she had laid down for a nap. She said she had locked her doors and when she woke up the door was open and the kids were gone." At around 2 o'clock, Kaylee called the police who arrived at the scene. It was then that the toddlers were both found at the back of the car, unconscious.
"Laykn Petchenik was later pronounced dead at a Booneville hospital," the Arkansas State Police (ASP) wrote in a news release. "Her body has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory for purposes of an autopsy. Olivia Petchenik remains hospitalized in Little Rock." According to ABC 11 , there are no details about how the two children had managed to get into the vehicle. It is still unsure whether or not they entered on their own and how they left the house. It has for now been ruled as a death in a hot car-related accident. This marks the nation's eleventh child hot car death so far in 2020 alone, according to Kids And Cars .
An officer from the local police along with Kaylee's neighbor, Wood, discovered the children lying unconscious on the car floorboard. “I was standing next to him when we looked down and saw them in the car, but I kind of froze up at the sight," Wood said. "I’m not going to lie. He opened the door, screamed for EMS, and grabbed both of them and rushed them to the hospital.” The kids were taken to a Booneville hospital where Layken was pronounced dead. Olivia was taken to Little Rock where she is stable, but in a critical condition. “Knowing that little girl only got 3 years of life and the only thing I can do now is that the youngest one makes it out fine," Wood added.
Janette Fennell, the president and founder of Kids And Cars, stated that hot car-related cases have increased by 55% this year. She thinks it could be due to the pandemic which has forced families to stay at home. "In many cases, the kids end up on the floorboards, so when people look inside [the car] they don't see them. It's just heartbreaking that these kids die in their own driveways," Fennell explained. To ensure these accidents do not repeat, parents can keep their car doors locked at all times and keep the keys in a place the children cannot reach it. Teaching kids to honk if they get stuck inside the car can also help.