Uncle charged with leaving girl to die in hot car at Lindenwold station
LINDENWOLD — A 60-year-old man who had been entrusted with caring for his niece has been charged with letting the toddler die in his car.
Shelton Shambry, 60, was charged this week with fourth-degree abuse and neglect for forgetting that the 22-month-old girl was locked in a car at the Lindenwold PATCO station on Aug. 16.
Milliani Robertson-Lawrence remained in the car from 6:30 a.m. until her body was recovered about 3:40 p.m. Temperatures that day reached into the upper 80s, meaning that the temperature in the vehicle was much hotter than that. Experts say children can die of heatstroke when the outside temperature is 72 degrees.
Milliani was one of at least two children who died this year in New Jersey after being left in a vehicle.
The girl's father, Nasir Lawrence, was outraged after hearing the news of her death.
He told CBS Philly last month that his daughter had been in the custody of her aunt and uncle while he served time in jail. He had been trying to get back custody of the 2-year-old girl.
“What did you do for eight hours that you forgot a 2-year-old? Exactly what were you doing at the PATCO station?” Lawrence said last month. “You killed my daughter. You took her from me.”
Since 1998, 14 children have died in hot cars in New Jersey.
In addition to Milliani, a 21-month-old Lakewood girl died in May after being left inside a car parked in the driveway of a home for two hours. The girl's mother, Chaya Shurkin, was charged with child endangerment.
There have been other close calls this year in New Jersey.
In July, police said an Atlantic City man went to an Egg Harbor Township restaurant and left his 3-year-old son in a hot car for three hours.
Police also arrested a man for leaving his 6-year-old son in a car parked overnight on a Jersey City street in June.
Forgetting children in vehicles is such a widespread problem that car manufacturers and app developers have been innovating ways to remind adults.
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J. 6th District, this month said he wants a federal law mandating child-detection features in new cars.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.