Arkansas Man ‘Froze’ After Finding 3-Year-Old, Baby Unconscious Inside Car

Lorenz Duchamps
By Lorenz Duchamps
July 24, 2020US News
Arkansas Man ‘Froze’ After Finding 3-Year-Old, Baby Unconscious Inside Car
An ambulance in a file photo. (Steve Marcus/File Photo via Reuters)

A three-year-old girl from Arkansas has died and her younger sister is currently hospitalized in critical but stable condition after they were both found in a car at their family home in Boonville, authorities said.

The girls’ mother, 21-year-old Kaylee Petchenik, called local Boonville police at around 2 p.m. on Monday to file a missing child report, telling the department her two daughters are nowhere to be found, Arkansas State Police said in a news release.

“I was sitting out of my porch around 11 o’clock and my neighbor Kaylee, the mom has came outside and looked concerned and worried and she came up to and asked if I had seen her kids,” the young mother’s neighbor, Matthew Wood, told KFSM.

Wood said that Petchenik told him she has been working night shifts and needed some rest, so she went to take an afternoon power-nap. She locked the doors before going to sleep, but after she woke up, the door was open and the two girls were missing.

After an Arkansas officer arrived on the scene, the officer and Wood found 3-year-old Laykn Petchenik and her 15-month-old sister Olivia, unconscious and lying on the car’s back floorboard, according to the police release.

NTD Photo
Laykn Petchenik, 3, from Boonville, Arkansas in a file photo. (GoFundMe)

“I was standing next to him when we looked down and saw them in the car, but I kind of froze up at the sight,” Wood told KFSM. “I’m not going to lie. He opened the door, screamed for EMS.”

Laykn was rushed to a Booneville hospital were she later died, police said. An autopsy will be performed by the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory to determine the toddler’s cause and manner of death.

Her younger sister was transported to a hospital in Little Rock, where she is listed in stable, but critical condition.

“Both are the apparent victims of heat,” Arkansas State Police officials stated. It is unclear how the children got inside the vehicle.

“Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are leading the investigation” into the possible circumstances of the incident and will submit a file to prosecutors in due course, a police statement said.

The Logan County prosecuting attorney will evaluate the case and decide whether or not to press charges.

After Laykn’s death, a GoFundMe page was set up to help the young mother with funeral expenses.

According to, an advocacy group that works to raise public awareness about such incidents, there have been 11 child hot car deaths so far this year.

Jan Null, a San Jose State professor and former meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told SFGate that the temperatures inside vehicles heat up rapidly, with the air rising about 19 degrees above the outside temperature is in the first 10 minutes and rising another 10 degrees in the next 10 minutes.

What’s more, Null said the bodies of small children heat up three to five times faster compared to adults. “So, while you and I could be in a car that’s, say, 109 degrees, an infant or small child would be to the point of entering heat stroke,” he said.

The National Safety Council advises parents and caregivers to stick to a routine and avoid distractions to reduce the risk of forgetting a child. Keep car doors locked so children cannot gain access, and teach them that cars are no play areas.

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