Three young children have died at a Florida property after becoming trapped in a freezer.
A one-year-old girl, a four-year-old girl and a six-year-old boy were playing on a trampoline outside a house in Suwannee County on Sunday (local time). The mother of the four-year-old was supervising the children but went inside to use the bathroom for 10 to 15 minutes, the Suwannee County Sheriff told local station WCTV.
When she came back outside she couldn't find them, and woke up another woman (the grandmother of the other two children) who had been resting inside in preparation for a night shift.
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The two adults searched the property and the house next door for the next 30 to 45 minutes. Eventually they checked inside a chest freezer, which had been recently purchased and was still sitting outside the house. It was unplugged and was not cold.
Inside was a gruesome sight. The children had climbed into the freezer and been unable to get back out. The women called paramedics and administered CPR on the youngsters, none of whom were breathing.
After arriving at hospital all three were pronounced dead.
Authorities have inspected the freezer, which they say had a hasp (a hinged fastening) installed on the lid.
"It is believed at this time, that when the children entered the freezer, and the lid closed, the hasp fell shut, trapping the children inside," the sheriff's office said in a statement.
The triple tragedy has hit the community hard, with neighbour Bob Biggs telling WCTV he'd seen the women frantically searching for the children before making the grisly discovery.
"That's tough to take because I have four grandkids of my own. That was a shock. That was just unbelievable."
No foul play is suspected, but the sheriff's office says the investigation is ongoing.