JACKSONVILLE, FL (WJXT/CNN) - Authorities in Florida say charges of child neglect may be filed in the deaths of three children trapped in a freezer.
Two siblings, a 6-year-old and 1-year-old, and a 4-year-old friend died Sunday night after climbing into a freezer, left unplugged outside, and getting trapped inside it.
The children were found by emergency personnel unresponsive in the freezer, and efforts to resuscitate them were unsuccessful.
According to the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office, an adult female had been watching them, but went inside to use the bathroom.
She couldn’t find the children when she returned, and woke up another woman at the house to help her look for them.
They looked around the house and at a vacant property next door, before finding them in the freezer.
“An after-market hasp had been installed on the lid in order to secure a padlock on it,” the sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook. “It is believed that when the children entered the freezer, and the lid closed, the hasp fell shut, trapping the children inside.”
A hasp is a metal hinge that padlocks lock into. While there was no padlock in the hasp, according to police, photos appeared to show how it would have gotten fixed into place to where the lid wouldn’t be able to be pushed up from inside.
A family friend, Scott Whisnant, said the two siblings were gregarious children.
The 1-year-old, a girl, he said, “would go and run up to somebody and just wave to them and then start blowing them kisses.”
Her 6-year-old brother “would try to pick a fight with you just so he can get a rise out of you, like with the Ninja Turtles,” according to Whisnant.
“He was something,” he said.
Whisnant said the family has gotten a lot of support, but said they have also been blamed for the deaths, which he said adds more pain to an already tragic situation.
"These two families are grieving. Why are you going to bash them? Aren't they suffering enough?” he said. “They do not need to see horrible remarks made. If you don't understand it, then please do not bash them, just ask or try to be understanding. What if it was your family?"