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3 Young Children Die After Accidentally Getting Locked In a Chest Freezer

Photograph by NBC News

A playtime accident has caused irreparable damage for two families in Live Oak, Florida, after three young children found their way into an unplugged chest freezer outside their home and accidentally locked themselves in.

Because the little ones reportedly got trapped in their hiding place while the mom who was watching them went to the bathroom, she had no idea where they went. Unfortunately, she couldn't find them in time and all three children tragically died. Now, relatives are speaking out about the children—ages 1, 4 and 6—and shedding light on this tragic case.

Photograph by News 4Jax

The horrible accident happened on Sunday while the children were playing together outside. A Suwannee County Sheriff's Office on Facebook revealed that three children—1- and 6-year-old siblings, as well as a 4-year-old friend who lived with them—were playing outside "when for unknown reasons they climbed inside of a chest freezer that had recently been brought to the residence."

Suwannee County Sheriff Sam St. John told the Tallahassee Democrat that the 4-year-old's mom had been watching the kids as they played but then went inside to use the bathroom for about "10 or 15 minutes; when she came back they were gone.” During that time, it's believed that the kids must have found the freezer and climbed inside, accidentally trapping themselves. When the mother returned from the bathroom, the kids were nowhere in sight and she panicked.

According to NBC News, the unnamed mom then went back inside to wake up the 1- and 6-year-old's grandmother, who was her roommate and had been sleeping before her night shift. The two women then went outside to search for the children, checking the grounds outside their home and a nearby vacant home.

The women reportedly spent about 30 to 40 minutes looking for the kids before making the grisly discovery. "When they opened the chest freezer, they discovered all three children inside of it, not breathing, and began resuscitative efforts and called 911," the statement from the Suwannee County Sherif's Office explained. The kids were then brought to an area hospital, but unfortunately all efforts to resuscitate the kids proved to be ineffective and they were pronounced dead.

Photograph by NBC News

Authorities who investigated their deaths revealed that "an after-market, hasp (or a metal clasp) had been installed on the lid in order to secure a padlock on it." But unfortunately they believe that when the children crawled inside the freezer, the lid closed and "the hasp fell shut, trapping the children inside." However, they also noted that there was no padlock on the freezer at the time.

Now, relatives of the 1- and 6-year-old have revealed their names. Speaking with First Coast News, family members shared that 6-year-old Dalton and his beloved 1-year-old sister, Kayleigh, had passed. Their grandmother also spoke out to reporters and shared that she has no hard feelings towards the 4-year-old's mom for what happened.

An autopsy report revealed that the kids died from accidental suffocation, but according to Fox News, the Suwannee County Sheriff's Office said it will meet with the State Attorney's office to decide whether to file charges.

“It’s very sad," St. John told the Tallahassee Democrat. "It just breaks your heart."

A GoFundMe has been set up by a former babysitter of Dalton and Kayleigh to raise funds for their family.

This post was originally published on Mom.me sister site CafeMom.

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