The same mother lost her 2-year-old daughter in March 2015 after she fell out the open door of a minivan, authorities tell PEOPLE

By Rachel DeSantis
November 07, 2019 02:28 PM

A 2-year-old Florida boy was hit and killed by an SUV driven by his mother on Tuesday, four years after the same mother lost her 2-year-old daughter in a similar accident.

In an incident authorities have called “horrific” and “tragic,” deputies with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office were called to a home in Plant City just before 5 p.m. to reports that the toddler had been hit by a family vehicle, the department said in a press release.

The child’s mother and grandmother told deputies that they’d been test-driving their Chevrolet Blazer on their private road, as it had been experiencing transmission issues.

After the vehicle began to stall, the mother, who was driving, put the car in reverse, drove forward, and then put it in reverse once again to ensure the car was working okay.

She said that on the first reverse, she felt the Blazer hit a piece of wood, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Crystal Clark said in a press conference televised by NBC affiliate WFLA.

The mother realized as she was driving that the family dog — which she had left inside with the toddler — was in the yard, alerting her that her son was likely outside as well, according to the release.

“Two-year-olds, some of them do have the ability to open a door on their own,” Clark said. “They did say that they left the toddler and a dog inside the house at the time, so when they saw the dog was outside in the yard, it’s a clear indicator that, ‘Oh no, our child is likely in the yard as well.’”

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Shortly after making the realization, the mother and grandmother found the toddler on the ground in front of their vehicle.

He was flown to Tampa General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, authorities said.

The accident was eerily similar to one in March 2015 that resulted in the death of the woman’s 2-year-old daughter at the same address.

A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office tells PEOPLE that in that instance, the girl fell out an open door of a minivan that was being driven by a relative.

The spokesperson declined to identify the victim, though the circumstances and date match a 2015 report published by the Tampa Bay Times about the death of Izbella Bronson, who was riding in a car driven by her great-grandmother on her way to pick up her two brothers from a school bus stop. She was reportedly sitting on the floor of the vehicle and was not wearing a seatbelt.

Izbella, too, was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital, where she died of her injuries, the outlet reported at the time.

“It’s absolutely a tragic accident, especially because such a young child lost his life,” said Clark of Tuesday’s accident. “This is something where, we just always try to drill home to families that you have to be extremely cautious whenever you have children that are out in the yard when your vehicles are running. We always ask that you make sure before getting in your vehicle and starting that car, you check around the vehicle to make sure no children or pets are there.”

An investigation is ongoing, and no charges have yet been filed against the boy’s family members.

The spokesperson says Child Protective Services investigators responded to Tuesday’s accident, and were verifying the well-being of two additional children who live in the home and are believed to be the same mother’s children.

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