Florida teacher charged in death of toddler who was left in hot car for hours, deputies say

Florida teacher faces charges after leaving toddler in hot car for hours

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A Florida elementary school teacher has been charged in the death of a toddler who was left in a hot car for nearly eight hours earlier this month, deputies said.

According to WFTV, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office arrested Dougkindra Chanel Wallace, 34, on charges of aggravated manslaughter of a child and neglect of a child in the death of 20-month-old Jace Leslie.

An arrest report said Jace’s mother regularly paid Wallace, a third grade teacher at Rolling Hills Elementary School, to drive the toddler to and from day care on days that his mother was working.

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On Sept. 11, Wallace picked up Jace from his home at 7:30 a.m., dropped off her own child with a babysitter and drove to the elementary school where she worked, according to an arrest report.

Wallace left the car running while she walked to the front office to have her temperature checked, the report said. Investigators said she returned to the car to move it to the teacher’s parking lot and then turned off the vehicle and entered the school, WFTV reported.

After finishing work, Wallace returned to the vehicle, dropped off a textbook to a student’s house and drove to Jace’s day care, where she noticed he was still buckled in his rear-facing car seat, deputies said. The boy, who had been inside the vehicle for nearly eight hours as the heat index reached 105 degrees, was dead, WFTV reported.

“At the time Dougkindra Wallace should have driven to Jace’s day care (when she left her own child’s day care), it should have only taken approximately five to six minutes to drive there,” the report said, according to WFTV. “During transport, Dougkindra Wallace was on the phone and likely distracted, passing Jace’s day care and driving instead to her place of employment.”