LAKEWOOD — The mother of a 21-month-old girl authorities say was left inside a hot car in her driveway for more than two hours — and later died — has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child by the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer said the child was left alone inside the car for about two hours on May 6 with the engine turned off. A neighbor was trying to perform CPR on the child as police arrived. Police took the child to Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus, where the child was declared dead.

"The investigation determined that the act of leaving the child in the car unattended for such a long period of time was the cause and manner of the child’s death," Billhimer said in a statement.

Chaya Shurkin was charge with endangering on June 5.

Billhimer's statement did not disclose the age and gender of the child, but his office later confirmed she was 21 months old. Billhimer's statement also did not discuss why the child was left in the car for so long.

 

NBC New York cited unnamed police sources at the time who said the child seemed to have been left in the car because of a misunderstanding. A law enforcement source told NBC New York that the child's mother took her to daycare, but the toddler didn't want to go in — so she took the child home. But the source told NBC New York there was then a miscommunication about when the child's mother or father would take her inside.

The high temperature in Lakewood on May 6 was 72 degrees, according to Townsquare Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow.

"A child's body heats up three to five times faster than an adult's body," AAA/Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Tracy Noble told New Jersey 101.5 previously. "On a 95-degree day, a car can heat up to over 180 degrees. And it only takes temperatures at 104 degrees for internal organs to start to shut down. So even in a matter of moments we can have a catastrophe on our hands."

"It's a sad situation. It's terrible," Township Committeeman Albert Akerman, who knows the family, told New Jersey 101.5 shortly after the incident. "They seem to be amazing people. They're not the negligent type at all."

"I have kids. I can't imagine anything worse than losing a kid," Akerman said.

Lichtenstein said the child was buried the same day in accordance with Jewish tradition.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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