A South Carolina middle school teacher faces a child abuse charge after, police say, she left her toddler daughter in the car all day while she was at work.
The incident was reported Friday afternoon at North Augusta Middle School in Aiken County, after a 2-year-old girl was brought to Augusta University Medical Center unresponsive and with an elevated body temperature, according to an incident report from the North Augusta Department of Public Safety.
Raquel Drayton Stevens, 30, told officers she did not realize her child was left in the vehicle until she finished work late that afternoon, according to the report. Stevens said when she realized what had happened, she immediately drove toward the hospital.
Because the child was unresponsive, Stevens decided to stop at the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office in Augusta, the report states. Officers there called an ambulance for the child.
The child is expected to make a full recovery without any detriment to her health, said Lt. Tim Thornton, spokesman for North Augusta Public Safety. She is now in the custody of her grandparents.
Investigators charged Stevens with unlawful conduct toward a child, Thornton said. The felony charge carries up to 10 years in prison, under South Carolina law.
Stevens is a math teacher at North Augusta Middle School and has taught there for three years, said Merry Glenne Piccolino, spokeswoman for Aiken County Public School District.
“She is outgoing, personable and a ‘favorite teacher’ of many students,” Piccolino said in an email to The State. “We can only imagine the anguish that’s associated with an accident of this nature and we join Ms. Stevens and her family in gratitude that the condition of her child is improving.”
South Carolina, sadly, is one of the top states in the country for heat-related deaths of children in cars this year.