Heat begins to take a toll

Thornhill

Soaring temperatures are taking a toll on Lowcountry residents.

A Connecticut man died after becoming overheated, the mother of a 2-month-old infant was jailed on charges that she left the child in her car with the windows rolled up, and people have received $1,000 tickets for leaving puppies in their cars.

Jonathan LaPointe, 32, of Meriden, Conn., died Thursday after he apparently became overheated while working for a moving company. LaPointe passed out and then had a cardiac episode on Blair Road in Summerville, Dorchester County Coroner Christopher Nisbet said.

Nisbet said the results of LaPointe's autopsy are still pending.

Melanie Hodges Thornhill, 35, told Charleston police that she forgot she had her 2-month-old son with her when she parked her car Thursday morning and went into the J. Crew store on King Street, according to a police report.

The report states that a passerby noticed the infant in the car and went into the nearby BCBG Max Azria to see if the child's parent was inside. A sales clerk told the passerby that a woman had left the car about five minutes earlier, the report states.

Police responded to a call from the store at about 11:15 a.m., and were attempting to open the car door when

Thornhill returned, the report states. It was 88 degrees at the time, with a heat index of 105 degrees, it states.

Thornhill was charged with unlawful conduct toward a child and transported to the Charleston County Detention Center.

Thornhill told police that her husband brought the child to her earlier in the day while she was having her hair done, and she subsequently forgot that she had the child with her, according to the report.

Animals also are suffering in the heat, said Kay Hyman, director of marketing and public relations for the Charleston Animal Society.

Two puppies were left in a car Friday in the shelter's Remount Road parking lot when the car's driver came in to look for a lost dog, Hyman said. A group of children on a visit to the shelter noticed the puppies and told their teacher.

The owner of the puppies received a $1,000 ticket for each puppy, Hyman said.

Also Friday, a month-old puppy was left in a car in the parking lot of the Northwoods Mall Books-A-Million. A passerby noticed the puppy and called police, who were able to open the car door, Hyman said. That puppy's owner also received a $1,000 ticket.

It's best in extreme heat to leave pets at home, Hyman said. Cars heat up rapidly, she said, and leaving windows open a crack isn't enough to keep them cool. "Just don't take the chance," she said.

Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or dknich@postandcourier.com.