Investigation continues in death of Mich. toddler left in van - KMSP-TV

Investigation continues in death of toddler left in van for hours

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James Nelson, 2, was found unresponsive in a minivan Tuesday evening. James Nelson, 2, was found unresponsive in a minivan Tuesday evening.
SHELBY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WJBK) -

Police say it could be days before charges are filed in the death of 2-year-old James Nelson, if any are filed at all. The Shelby Twp. toddler died after being left inside a minivan for up to 11 hours earlier this week.

Nelson's body temperature -- taken at an area hospital -- was 108 degrees, said Shelby Township Police Chief Roland Woelkers.

An autopsy performed Wednesday listed hyperthermia as contributing to the boy's death. "We'll do a complete investigation and see what we can determine," said Woelkers.

According to state law, a child under the age of six cannot be left alone inside a vehicle, FOX 2's Amy Andrews reports. Andrews says if a child dies inside the vehicle alone, the incident would be considered felony child abuse.

James' body was found about 6 p.m. Tuesday strapped in a child safety seat in the rear of a minivan outside his home in the Dequindre Estates mobile home park in Shelby Township. The van's windows were rolled up. Tuesday's high was about 73 degrees.

He may have been in the van since 7 a.m. Tuesday. His body was found by his mother's roommate later that afternoon.

His mother, 21-year-old Audrionna Rhoades, was at work Tuesday at a medical supply company in Oakland County. The boy often was left in the care of her roommate or Rhoades' parents who live nearby, Woelkers said.

It's unclear who was caring for James on Tuesday and who put him in the child's car seat.

"It could have been a baby sitter, the grandparents or the mother," Woelkers said.

Andrews says James is the 33rd child in the United States to die this year from heat-related injuries after being left inside a vehicle.

Funeral arrangements are still pending.

FOX 2 will continue to update this story throughout the day.

- The Associated Press contributed to this story

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