Smyrna father arrested after child dies in unattended vehicle

Posted at 8:30 PM, Jul 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-12 20:36:46-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A 23-year-old father has been arrested after a 3-year-old child died from being left unattended inside a hot car.

Smyrna Police officers were called to a home on the 700 block of Windbirch Trail just before 5 p.m. Thursday.

Smyrna's Police Chief identified the child who died as Daylin Palmer. First responders found him unresponsive and tried to save him, but they were unsuccessful.

According to Smyrna Police officials, the child likely died from heat exposure. It is believed he was left in the car for two hours, police said.

Storm 5 Meteorologist Lelan Statom looked at temperature records and reports temperatures in Smyrna were at 92 degrees at 3 p.m. Thursday.

According to Rutherford County Jail officials, 23-year-old Dylan Levesque was booked overnight on charges of aggravated child abuse and neglect in connection with the case. Smyrna's Police Chief said investigators began looking into the circumstances of how the child was left in the vehicle, which led to the arrest. His bond was set at $50,000.

In addition to these most recent charges, Levesque has a rather lengthy criminal history, having been convicted other charges in the past. These include possession of a schedule VI drug, resisting arrest, shooting a gun into a home and assault of a police officer.

A total of 19 children have died in hot cars this year, according to the National Safety Council. On average, 38 children under the age of 15 die each year from heatstroke after being left in a vehicle.

Vanderbilt's Monroe Carrell, Jr. Children's Hospital has tips to avoid vehicle-related injuries or deaths:

  • Never leave your child alone inside the car, even for a minute.
  • Use cellphone or computer reminders to make sure children have been dropped off at the desired location.
  • If your child is missing, check vehicles and trunks first.
  • Teach your children to never play inside vehicles to prevent them from accidentally locking themselves inside one.
  • Be sure to lock all doors and windows to vehicles on your property.
  • Community members who see a child left alone in a hot vehicle should act immediately and call 911.
  • Look before you lock: Get into the routine of always checking the back seats of your vehicle before you lock it and walk away
  • Leave yourself a gentle reminder: Get in the habit of keeping a stuffed toy or other memento in your child’s car seat, then move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when the baby is in the back seat. Or, place your phone, briefcase or purse in the back seat when traveling with your child.
  • Have a plan with childcare provider: If your child does not show up to daycare or school without prior notice, someone should call to locate the child. Have your child care provider call if your child is more than 10 minutes late.

Editorial note: An earlier version of this story identified the suspect as Levsque Palmer, which has been corrected based on information from the Rutherford County Jail.