Twin boys who were found dead in their family SUV outside a daycare center in South Carolina died from heat exposure, and may have been in the vehicle for nine and half hours, a coroner has said.
Bryson and Brayden McDaniel, 20 months, were found dead in the small family SUV outside of Sunshine House Early Learning Academy in the Columbia suburb of Blythewood at 5.30pm on Wednesday.
The Richland County Coroner’s Office told a press conference Thursday that a parent had placed the children in rear-facing car seats of the SUV at around 7.30-8am, before driving to another location for the day.
The parent later arrived at Sunshine House at 5.30pm, where the children were enrolled and had been due to spend the day.
Richland County EMS was dispatched at 5.40pm and arrived at the scene at 5.54pm. At 5.55pm the twins were pronounced dead.
The Coroner’s Office declined to identify the parent who was driving, or the secondary location they traveled to, as the investigation is ongoing.
The Coroners Office ruled out the daycare’s involvement in the twin’s death and implied the twins’ death could potentially be from a parent, who normally doesn’t drop off the children to school, going out their normal routine, as seen in previous cases.
Coroner Naida Rutherford, who attended the twin’s autopsy this morning, said they believed the twins were in the car for upward of nine and a half hours.
Rutherford said the possible cause of death is hyperthermia, meaning their bodies had became dangerously overheated.
Blythewood was experiencing 83 degree Fahrenheit weather at around 6pm yesterday with a humidity rate of 79 per cent.
These temperatures can cause the interior of a car to reach 117 degrees within 30 minutes, and 126 degrees within an hour.
Examinations of the babies’ stomach contents match the absence of food intact for nine and a half hours.
Rutherford also reported that the twins had otherwise been healthy, and did not show any signs of trauma or abuse, no healing or acute fractures, and their organs were developing normally.
The only abnormality a medical examiner found were in the boys’ lungs, but it is not clear what exactly the abnormality was.
Additional microscope, histology, and toxicology testing will be SLED and MSNE Laboratories to determine the cause of death.
‘This will confirm or rule out any chemicals, toxins, or illicit drugs, or over-the-counter medicines that may have contributed to death,’ Naida Rutherford said.
‘We will not announce the manner of death until we have all the information.’
Rutherford added: ‘I’d like to say at this time, with the evidence at this time, we do not believe the Sunshine Academy staff were involved or complicit in any way to the deaths of Bryson and Brayden McDaniel.’
The Coroner’s Office declined to comment on the reason the children were left in the car at the moment as police continue to investigate.
‘We have two very distraught parents,’ Rutherford said.
She added: ‘We can’t speak to how or why the children were left in the vehicle for so long. That’s why I say if this was an unfortunate accident, we pray the family can find peace. But if it was a criminal act, we will help seek justice for these babies.’
No criminal charges have been pressed as the police are determining whether the twins’ deaths were an accident.
The Coroner’s Office is working with the Richland County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Social Services to nail down a more concrete timeline.
The Coroner’s Office is unaware if the children were marked absent from school on Wednesday.
There are currently no criminal charges being pressed against the parents.
The Sunshine House told Daily Mail: ‘We are heartbroken to learn of the terrible tragedy that has touched our Sunshine House family. Two 20-month-old children who attend our school in Blythewood, SC tragically passed away Wednesday September 1.
‘Their deaths deeply affect every single one of us, and our entire company mourns this tragedy. Our hearts and thoughts are with the children’s family, friends, and loved ones as they cope with this tremendous loss.
‘This news is difficult to process and affects all members of our school family, especially those who cared for these precious babies each day. As a result, our school in Blythewood is closed for the remainder of the week. We are providing grief counseling services to any team members in need of support. We will reopen our school on Tuesday September 7.’
Daily Mail reached out to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department for a comment, but did not hear back before publication.