Officers arrived and were directed by school personnel to a small car parked on the lot. Police said an ambulance was called, but the victims were pronounced dead at the scene.
Authorities said there were no signs of trauma or violence, and they don’t know why the deceased were at the school parking lot.
The car, a silver Nissan Versa, was impounded Tuesday as Hagerstown police investigate. The 32-year-old mother was reclined in the front and her daughters, ages 6 months and 18 months, were in the back strapped in their car seats. Autopsies are being performed to determine how they died.
“A couple of my staff members had found the car, and there was no response,” said Michael Kuhaneck, the principal at Western Heights Middle School.
He said staff members discovered the bodies as they were leaving Monday afternoon for summer break.
“Our hearts went out to the community. We didn’t know whether it was a staff member or a student. Someone with no affiliation to the school is what it ultimately turned out to be, but we never could have predicted that. We didn’t know,” Kuhaneck said.
The vehicle was unlocked, it wasn’t running and all of the windows were up, officials said.
“It was very hot when the first responders opened up the car, so it’s very possible that it was just a heat-related death, but we’re not closing out anything right now,” Hagerstown police Capt. P.J. Kifer said.
Police said the mother was originally from Guyana and she lived and worked in Hagerstown. She previously lived in West Virginia and seemed to have no ties to the school where she and her children were found.
“Just the circumstances of them being found in the car at a spot they really didn’t need to be at, there’s no association that we can find of this female to the school,” Kifer said.
Thursday was the last day for students. The principal was relieved no children were at the school but said what happened still affects the staff.
“We work in a school because we have a passion for kids. That tends to be people who are big-hearted. When something like this unfolds, it really does make a heavy heart, especially as most of us have families. We can relate,” Kuhaneck said.
Police have not released the names of the deceased. Investigators said they have talked to the father of the girls, who did not live with the family, and they are having trouble trying to locate other family members. (WBALTV.com)