MELBOURNE, Fla. – A Florida mother was charged Wednesday in the death of her 14-month-old son after detectives determined she left the boy alone in a car for hours while she drank at a bar, smoked marijuana and searched for cocaine.
An autopsy showed that the toddler suffered a fatal heat stroke while locked in the woman’s car.
Emily Hartman, 26, of Palm Bay was charged with aggravated manslaughter by neglect, possession with intent to sell cocaine and possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana, after an investigation by Melbourne police. Detectives determined that Hartman left the boy, identified as Richard Wighard, alone several times on April 3.
Melbourne police issued a warrant for Hartman’s arrest earlier this week.
Detectives were called to investigate the case after Hartman turned up about 1 p.m. on April 4 at a Melbourne fire station. Detectives said Hartman had left her child in the car alone as she drank with a friend at a bar the night before.
Police said that after leaving the bar, Hartman spent the overnight hours meeting with several people. She turned up later at a North Melbourne home where she left the child in the car alone for up to six hours as she went inside and smoked marijuana.
Hartman, who police said also obtained several grams of powdered cocaine, admitted that the car’s engine was off during the times and that the boy was still strapped in his car seat, reports show.
Hartman left the home on April 4 and noticed the child appeared in “distress,” reports show. She then drove the child to a fire station where paramedics worked to revive the boy.
Hartman, who brought her unresponsive toddler to the station, told paramedics he was suffering from unidentified medical problems.
Paramedics determined the boy was suffering a “heat-related illness” and rushed him to Holmes Regional Medical Center for further treatment.
The boy later was airlifted to Advent Health for Children in Orlando, where doctors pronounced him dead.
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