A 2-year-old child froze to death after wandering outside and getting trapped in the frigid temperatures outside her New Hampshire home Monday in what police believe was a tragic accident.
Neighbor Shane Rowe and his girlfriend heard the young girl cry about 4 a.m. Monday morning, but when they looked outside they didn’t see anything and went back to sleep, according to local news station WMUR,
The next morning his girlfriend went outside to start the cars around 7 a.m. and saw the little girl’s body.
“I saw a little girl next to the bottom of the stairway,” Rowe later told the station. “I said to myself, ‘I hope that’s a doll.’”
It turned out to be the body of Sofia Van Schoick, a 2-year-old girl, who had moved to the Newport home just days earlier with her pregnant mother and twin brother, Camden.
Lindsay Van Schoick, the girl’s grandfather, told the station he thinks the girl may have gotten confused in her new surroundings and somehow ended up outside, where temperatures dipped to eight degrees below zero overnight.
"She was a very precocious 2½-year-old girl, way ahead of her time," he said. "She was very independent, ahead of her time."
After discovering the body, Rowe said his girlfriend banged on the door to alert Sofia’s mother, who wrapped the young girl in a blanket and called 911.
Police Chief James Burroughs said the investigation showed Sofia had likely gotten outside on her own and was then unable to get back inside, according to the Associated Press.
“I don’t believe it was too difficult for the child to get out,” Burroughs said of the two-story residence.
It was later determined the child died of “exposure to the elements and hypothermia,” he said.
The toddler was barefoot and wearing her pajamas when she died.
“Sofia was the happiest and smartest toddler you would have ever met,” her mother, Courtney Van Schoick, told The Valley News. “She’s so loved and missed.”
Lindsay Van Schoick said his daughter is now struggling with the sudden loss of her young child.
“It’s rough,” he told the AP. “It was a terrible accident, a terrible accident. She is doing horrible. She is doing terrible. She just lost one of her children.”
The incident remains under investigation by police and the Sullivan County Attorney’s Office and has also been referred to the Division for Children, Youth and Families, which is routine in a situation such as this.
[Photo: Associated Press]
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.