Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott and Coroner Gary Watts called the death of Zion Akinrefon tragic and horrific. At a news conference Friday afternoon, they explained how the 4-year old boy died after getting trapped inside a hot car.
“Our kids are curious. they ride in cars. unfortunately, in this situation this 4-year old got back into the car without the parents knowing about it. And it didn’t take long for the child to lose it’s life,” says Sheriff Lott.
Zion’s death is the first hot car death in the state this year and the first in Richland County since 2015. We’re told Zion and his family were in town visiting family in Blythewood.
Wednesday afternoon, the family started looking when they noticed Zion wasn’t around. his mother found him passed out in the back seat of the family’s SUV around 5 pm. authorities say the child had climbed inside and locked himself there.
Lott says, “it’s that time of year, it’s hot. and unfortunately, we had it happen this week, and I think that should be a tragic reminder to all of us that it can happen and will happen if we don’t take steps to stop it.”
The coroner demonstrated how inside a vehicle it can get up to 120 degrees in a matter of minutes. He also says, Zion died from complications of probable hyperthermia.
Richland County investigators are treating this as an accident so it’s not likely that charges will be filed.