PINEVILLE, N.C. — A woman has been charged in connection with her 12-month-old foster son's death after she left him in a hot car for hours while she was at work last week, police said.
Dawn Broecke, 42, was charged with involuntary manslaughter after her foster son was found inside a car at the McMullen Creek Shopping Center off Pineville Matthews Road.
She turned herself in to police on Wednesday.
According to officers, Broecke works at the shopping center and said she didn't realize she left him in the car until she got off work.
Police said when Broecke found her son in the vehicle around 5 p.m. on Aug. 29, she frantically called 911 for help.
When officers got there, they said they tried to save the boy and rushed him to Atrium Pineville, but it was too late.
"I know the baby was worked on all the way up to the hospital," police told Channel 9.
The Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner's Office said the child died of "Hypothermia due to environmental exposure."
Temperatures climbed into the mid-80s the day the child was found in the car.
It's still unclear exactly how long the baby was in the car, but investigators said it was for "a prolonged period."
Detectives spoke with family members and checked surveillance video at the shopping center.
Advocates for children are warning other parents to learn from the tragedy.
"Parents say 'How would you forget a child? This would never happen,.' so, they don't create a system to protect from it, because they don't think that it would ever happen to them," Janice Williams with Safe Kids Charmeck said.
DSS said it usually investigates cases like this to determine if there was a pattern of neglect and if the woman's other foster children should be removed from the home.
The Department of Social Services is investigating the case.
Channel 9 learned 37 children have died in hot cars this year nationwide, two in North Carolina.
Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.
Cox Media Group