46-Year-Old Babysitter Arrested in Baker County for Aggravated Manslaughter After 10-Month-Old Infant Dies in Hot Car

A 46-year-old woman was arrested in Macclenny, Florida on Wednesday (July 19) after unintentionally leaving a 10-month-old child – who she was supposed to be babysitting at the time – in a non-running vehicle. According to the Baker County Sheriff’s Office, the child was left in the vehicle for five hours. 

The babysitter – who was identified as Rhonda Jewell, 46 – picked the little girl up from her mother’s residence (in North Macclenny) around 8:00 in the morning. They then drove to a nearby residence (in South Macclenny), where she was supposed to babysit three other kids who were already at the home.

When Jewell arrived at the home, she accidentally left the baby in the vehicle and walked inside. It wasn’t until the baby’s mother arrived to pick her daughter up – at around 1:00 p.m. (five hours later) – that the babysitter realized where the little girl was. The police were called immediately and arrived moments later. 

RELATED: Grandmother Being Charged With Aggravated Manslaughter After 2 of Her Grandchildren Die Under Her Care 11 Months Apart

The little girl wasn’t breathing and had blue lips by the time her mother got her out of the vehicle. When police arrived on the scene, they found the little girl in the garage and began executing life-saving measures, but to no avail. The daughter was sent to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Authorities noted that the outside temperature was around 98° F and the temperature inside the vehicle was around 133°F. The police spoke to the babysitter, who said she ‘assumed’ the baby had fallen asleep before going inside to look after the other children. None of the other children were harmed or injured. 

The babysitter was arrested and sent to the Baker County Detention Center, where her bond was set at $25,000 – she’ll be subject to GPS monitoring upon her release. She had an initial appearance in court on Thursday (July 20) and will face an aggravated manslaughter charge for her role in the infant’s death.

According to Kids and Car Safety, more than 1,050 children have died as a result of being left in a hot vehicle since 1990 – including 208 children since 2018 and 14 children (including the incident above) in 2023, alone. Of those 14 incidents in 2023, six of them have occurred in the state of Florida. 

Baker County Sheriff Describes the ‘Tragedy’ That Unfolded on July 19 

On July 20, the day after the 10-month-old girl died, Sheriff Scotty Rhoden shared a statement on the Baker County Sheriff’s Office’s official Facebook page that detailed the events that unfolded on July 19 and asked the community for privacy as they acknowledge and process ‘the magnitude of the tragedy.’ 

A Message from Sheriff Scotty Rhoden Dear Citizens of Baker County, As Sheriff, I would like to take a moment to…

Posted by Baker County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, July 20, 2023

Rhoden explained why the Sheriff’s Office waited until the following day to share information of the tragedy, citing a need to ‘take some time yesterday as a department to think about the impact this incident would have on everyone in our community.’ He described the tragic case as one that ‘deserved privacy.’

Before he went into the details of what happened, he admitted that ‘posting the details of this tragedy is very hard for me’ and asked his community to ‘respect the privacy’ of the family and ‘join me in prayer for the family and everyone involved.’ He left his community with a small, but thoughtful message.  

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“Each of us are given the gift of life every morning we wake up and every evening when we finish our day, we are blessed if our family is safe and healthy. In the blink of an eye, our world can be turned upside down. Please be mindful of this when trying to understand the tragedy that took place in our small town yesterday,” he wrote.

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