Guardian charged with abuse and neglect after 1-year-old girl dies in hot car

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Courier-Post via USA Today Network Courier-Post via USA Today Network
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A 60-year-old man has been charged after a 1-year-old girl, of whom he was the legal guardian, died in a hot car in New Jersey, prosecutors said.

Shelton Shambry was charged Monday with fourth-degree abuse and neglect for allegedly leaving the 22-month-old girl in a van at a train station in Lindenwold last month, according to the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.

After a call to 911 on Aug. 16, responders found the little girl unresponsive in her car seat, prosecutors said.

(MORE: I'm a cautious mom who had a hot car scare. Here's my plea to parents and lawmakers.)

She was pronounced dead at 3:54 p.m. -- less than 20 minutes after the call to 911, prosecutors said, and her manner of death was ruled accidental.

The temperature in Lindenwold reached 87 degrees that day with a heat index -- or what it feels like -- of 92.

Shambry had allegedly put the 1-year-old in the car shortly before 6:30 a.m. that day and forgot she was in there, prosecutors said.

Shambry told police the usual routine was for him to drop the little girl off at day care before bringing a family member to work, but on that morning, the family member asked to be dropped off before heading to the day care, according to court documents.

After bringing the family member to work, Shambry told police he drove home, unintentionally leaving the girl in the car, court documents said.

At about 11:30 a.m., Shambry told police, he left the house for his work shift and drove to the train station -- all while he was unaware the 1-year-old was in the back of the van, court documents said. He told police he parked, locked the van and went to the train, court documents said.

(MORE: 'Nobody believes this could happen to them': 2 more hot car deaths in 1 afternoon)

Shambry was charged on a summons and released; he's set to make his first appearance in court on Sept. 26, prosecutors said. He does not yet have an attorney.

At least 41 children have died in hot cars so far this year in the U.S., according to national nonprofit KidsAndCars.org.

The group is advocating for Congress to pass the Hot Cars Act to require rear occupant alarm technology in cars.

"Without technology to detect the presence of a child inside a vehicle, hot car tragedies will continue to happen week after week because nobody believes this could happen to them," Amber Rollins, director of KidsAndCars.org, told ABC News last month.

Click here for a list of hot car safety tips.

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