'I Couldn't Breathe,' New Hampshire Mom Says Of Finding Her 2-Year-Old Daughter Frozen To Death Outside Home

Courtney VanSchoick said she no idea her young daughter Sofia knew how to open the locked door.

By Jill Sederstrom

A New Hampshire mom is used to setting two pairs of tiny clothes out each morning, but now the grieving 20-year-old mother only sets out one after her 2-year-old daughter accidentally got outside the family’s home Monday and froze to death just steps away from the door.

“I honestly don’t know how I’ve managed to keep going,” Courtney VanSchoick told People Magazine of the tragic ordeal that claimed the life of one of her twins.

VanSchoick had moved the Newport home just a week earlier and never realized her daughter Sofia would be able to open the locked door on her own.

But on Monday morning, the single mother was awoken by a frantic banging by a neighbor who had discovered the toddler laying outside the door in temperatures that reached eight below zero.

“I couldn’t breathe,” VanSchoick said of realizing her daughter had gotten outside. “All I wanted was to hold her in my arms. I ran and picked her up.”

But it was too late. Sofia was already dead. Preliminary results of an autopsy determined she had died of exposure to the elements and hypothermia.

Newport Police Chief Jim Burroughs called the death a “bad accident” and said there was nothing suspicious about the tragedy, according to The Valley News.

“For reasons that are unknown and probably will never be known, in the middle of the night, she decided to go outside and then wasn’t able to get back in,” he said.

Now, the young girl’s mother is left haunted by her memories.

“I loved everything about her,” she told People. “Looking into her deep blue eyes and feeling my heart just melt. Never being able to hear her little voice again, that’s what I am going to miss most is never hearing her say ‘mom’ again.”

Sofia’s twin brother, Camden, continues to look for the sibling who has been by his side since birth.

“[The hardest part has been] waking up this morning and getting clothes for one child instead of two,” VanSchoick said.

After news broke of the tragedy, the Newport community is rallying behind the young mother.

Neighbor Charlotte Caron told New England Cable News she had looked out the window of her home and seen what appeared to be a doll laying face down in the ground before she heard the mother’s screams.

“I saw her coming out, grabbing the child in a blanket and bringing her inside,” she said.

She called the tragedy “heartbreaking.”

The toddler’s grandfather Lindsay VanSchoick said the family decided to share their devastation in the hopes that it will have an impact on other parents and remind them to treasure their children.

“Hug them and love them because you never know what tomorrow is going to bring and you can never be too careful,” he told the news network.

[Photo: Courtney VanSchoick/GoFundMe]

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