South Carolina

Two charged with murder after teen with special needs dies in hot car, SC officials say

Children left in hot cars: ‘This could happen to anyone’

South Carolina led the nation in 2018 with six children dying in hot cars. Parents often feel shame, but experts say it could happen to anyone.
Up Next
South Carolina led the nation in 2018 with six children dying in hot cars. Parents often feel shame, but experts say it could happen to anyone.

A child died Monday night after being left in a car in South Carolina, according to the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators arrested two adults, Rita Pangalangan and Larry King, in connection with the death, the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

After she was charged with murder Tuesday, Pangalangan was identified as the child’s mother during a bond hearing, WCBD reported.

Like Pangalangan, 49, the 41-year-old King was also charged with murder, and both are being held without bond in the Colleton County Detention Center, according to WCIV.

Pangalangan works for the Colleton County School District and has been put on paid administrative leave as the sheriff’s office investigated, according to The Press and Standard.

“The Colleton County School District has been made aware of an arrest of one of our employees by the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office on August 5,” the district said, according to the newspaper.

Investigators say they were called to a scene on Low County Highway, off Interstate 95 about 60 miles west of Charleston, on Monday night.

County officials say the victim “was a 13-year-old girl with special needs,” who investigators said was placed in the car at 11 a.m., WCSC reported.

“When authorities arrived on scene around 4:52 p.m., the child’s condition was beyond help,” the Colleton County fire chief told WCSC.

An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday, according to WCIV.

“Pangalangan works in early childhood education for the Colleton County School District,” WPDE reports. She was named teacher of the year in 2014, according to WCSC.

Both King and Pangalangan have been arrested multiple times since 2000, but only King was convicted, on simple assault and disorderly conduct charges in 2000, per WCIV.

South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s child fatality units are helping in the investigation, according to Colleton County.

Six children died in hot cars in South Carolina last year, The State newspaper reports.

Inland Colleton County saw a high temperature in the lower 90s Monday and lows in the lower 70s, according to the National Weather Service.

Related stories from The State in Columbia SC

Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.
Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.