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Lakewood Mother Admits Leaving Her Baby In Hot Car For 2 Hours, Ocean County Prosecutor Says

Chaya Shurkin
Chaya Shurkin Photo Credit: Ocean Count Prosecutor's Office

A 27-year-old mother from the Jersey Shore has admitted that she inadvertently left her 21-month-old child in a hot car, authorities said

The child died about two-and-a-half hours later, according to the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.

Chaya Shurkin of Lakewood pleaded guilty Friday to endangering the welfare of a child in May 2019, according to Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer.

Agreeing that Shurkin faces a lifetime of pain, the prosecution  recommends probation when the mother is sentenced on July 23, he said.

"The loss of a child -- under these horrific circumstances – is tantamount to a life-sentence in and of itself,” Billhimer said.

The recommendation of probation is consistent with the majority of similar accidental, tragic deaths, he said.

The mother allegedly left her child alone in a motor vehicle for about two-and-one-half hours with the car turned off, in the heat, the prosecutor said.

The Ocean County Medical Examiner confirmed that the cause of the child’s death was "exposure to increased environmental temperatures," Billhimer said. 

On May 6, 2019, Lakewood police  were called to a residence on a report of a child in distress, Billhimer said.

Life-saving efforts were performed by police and EMS at the home before the child was taken to Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus in Lakewood, he said.

The child was later pronounced dead at the hospital. he said. 

The manner of death was determined to be accidental, Billhimer said.

“Sadly, the loss of this child was totally avoidable," Billhimer said in a statement on Friday. "Ms. Shurkin lost a child as a consequence of her own inattention; this is a burden she must carry with her for the rest of her life, which amounts to a far greater punishment than any sentence the State could possibly recommend to a Court,” Billhimer's statement said.

"The majority of these dreadful types of cases have been handled in Ocean County, as well as throughout this state and nation" with similar recommended sentences, the prosecutor said.

The prosecutor's suggested sentence "represents an acknowledgement that the loss of a child -- under these horrific circumstances – is tantamount to a life-sentence in and of itself,” Billhimer said.

Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Christine Lento handled the case.

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