Toddler Dies After Being Left In Florida Truck, Father Arrested

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Troy Whitaker is facing aggravated manslaughter chargers after his 23-month-old son died from heat exposure.

The 41-year-old Palm Harbor, Florida resident had both of his children in his truck when he dropped off his five-year-old daughter at school on September 9th.

Whitaker reportedly didn't notice his toddler, Lawson, according to Sherrif Bob Gaultieri.  

Whitaker said that he thought he had dropped his son off at daycare, but it appeared he went straight home to study for a promotional test he was scheduled to take for the Hillsborough County Fire Department.

It's said that Lawson was left in the car from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  His dad took the dog on a walk at 3:30 p.m., then went grocery shopping at Publix Supermarket before discovering Lawson in the seat behind the driver's seat, Fox 13 reports.

Whitaker attempted CPR, but reported to officials that his son "was blue and not breathing."

troy whitaker mug shot

Sheriff Gaultieri informed Fox 13 that Lawson's body temperature was 108 degrees after he was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

"It was obvious that he had been dead for a while," Gaulitieri said in a press conference.

The sheriff was sympathetic when talking about Troy.

"It was evident that he didn't realize that the child was in the backseat until he arrived home from Publix," Gualtieri continued.

"He was taking the groceries out of the front passenger seat and immediately dropped the bags -- there are groceries all over the driveway -- and then went and took the child out of the car seat.

"As you can imagine, he was extremely upset -- visibly upset," Gaultieri added, also informing reporters that Lawson's mother was at the hospital with other family members on September 9th.

According to CNN, Florida has the second-highest rate of child deaths in cars -72- since 1998, behind Texas, which has seen 100.

Lynn Balfour, who accidentally left her child in the car while she rushed to deal with an emergency at her job in 2014, attempted to describe the pain of loss and guilt to CNN.

"The pain -- it's not like a normal death in your family where you lose a child ... you get to grieve and move on," Balfour said of losing her 9-month-old son.

"That pain is every day. It's always there. It never goes away."

Authorities recommend that parents leave their cell phones in the back seat with the child so that they'll remember to remove the child from the car.

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