Florida mom ‘had no idea’ she left newborn and toddler in hot car, cops say

Simple tips to avoid tragedy as hot car deaths reach highest toll on record

As scorching temperatures arrive with summer, it’s important to know the inside of a car can climb to deadly temperatures in a matter of minutes. A recent report concluded 52 children lost their lives in hot cars in 2018 – a record number.
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As scorching temperatures arrive with summer, it’s important to know the inside of a car can climb to deadly temperatures in a matter of minutes. A recent report concluded 52 children lost their lives in hot cars in 2018 – a record number.

As a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputy walked up to Andrea Michelle Cole’s Bradenton home on Monday after receiving a report about a domestic disturbance, he noticed her unresponsive 7-week-old daughter and crying 2-year-old son, both showing signs of heat exhaustion, sitting alone in a car under the beating mid-day sun.

When confronted, Cole said she “had no idea that she left her children in the car and could not answer questions,” a probable cause affidavit states.

Inside the car, deputies found loose prescription pills, open liquor bottles and used diapers.

Cole has a history of drug abuse, according to court records.

Cole mu_fitted.jpeg
Andrea Cole, 35 Provided Manatee County Sheriff's Office

The home where Cole, her husband and children live was filthy, according to deputies, with garbage strewn all over the floor and on every inch of table-top. Empty liquor bottles were thrown about and there was nothing edible to eat, according to the sheriff’s office.

When she made her first appearance before Circuit Judge Robert Farrance on Tuesday afternoon, Cole interjected as an assistant state attorney read the allegations: “There’s tons of food for my children.”

“I love my kids so much. I really do,” Cole told the judge.

Cole was arrested on Monday and charged with child neglect and resisting arrest with violence. As of late Tuesday afternoon, she remained in custody at the Manatee County jail on bonds totaling $9,000.

Should Cole post bond, she will also be placed in the Supervised Release program. Any contact with her children will be governed by orders in a child protection case opened after her arrest.

Kids now in protective custody

The children were placed in protective custody in the care of their maternal grandmother, during a dependency court hearing also held on Tuesday. Cole was not present, because she was not transported to the courthouse for the hearing.

Child welfare workers involved in the case did not know she was still in custody. The children’s father, Cole’s husband, did not appear at the hearing.

Circuit Judge Teresa Dees ordered any mental health, substance abuse and domestic violence records involving the parents be released to child protection investigators.

Cole has a documented history of abusing drugs, according to court records. A prosecutor told Judge Farrance that Cole did not have a criminal history, but court records show that she has been arrested numerous times.

“I just want my kids back,” Cole said at the end of the hearing.

In 2004, Cole faced more than a dozen charges for obtaining or attempting to obtain a controlled substance with a fraudulent prescription. A sheriff’s office investigation of Cole, known by her maiden name Andrea Jaramillo at the time, revealed how she was repeatedly taking fraudulent prescriptions for Adderall in her and her brothers’ names to pharmacies in attempts to have them filled.

She later took a plea deal, pleading to one count of each charge and was sentenced to two years’ probation with the condition that she undergo intensive out-patient psychotherapy. Cole violated her probation twice and was ultimately ordered into the First Step of Sarasota Pathways addiction recovery residential program.

Cole faced similar charges in Pinellas County and has one other prior arrest in Manatee for resisting officers.

Her husband, Jack Kingdom Cole III, is currently out on bond after he was arrested on a count of aggravated battery against a pregnant woman and two counts of violating the conditions of his release in that case.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Andrea Cole was found by deputies crying in her car with their one-year-old son on Feb. 8 in the parking lot of the sheriff’s office. Deputies say she told them she was trying to get away from her husband because he had been verbally abusive in the past and that she just needed somewhere to stay.

But as deputies listened to her call one of the shelters they suggested, they overheard otherwise. When confronted after the call, Cole admitted that her husband had dragged her to the ground by her hair and kicked her in the chest and stomach, according to the report.

However, in a letter dated received June 21 by the judge presiding over her husband’s case, Andrea Cole wrote that the case was the act of ‘a vindictive prosecutor” trying to destroy their family.

“My husband is not violent and never attacked me pregnant,” Cole wrote. “The police report is all false and full of lies and the state attorney is being vindictive and evil in his conduct.”

Cole said the prosecutor was “an atheist and most likely a homosexual hell bent on destroying families by ripping apart families by targeting so many husbands and men.”

She accused the prosecutor of “working in cahoots” with her husband’s public defender.

Later in the letter Cole went on to say that, “there is a spiritual war going on in this world. My husband and I are firm believers in Christ and rebuke this awful attack on our family.” The prosecutor she said, “wishes to help women , as most men do, yet he cannot ... because of the spirit of homosexuality. So he acts out in these egregious ways.”

Cole argued for a no contact order between she and her husband be lifted or amended.

Jack Cole has a lengthy criminal history that includes more than a dozen arrests for charges that include domestic violence, possession of a controlled substance and possession of cannabis. He is next scheduled to be appear in court on Thursday for a hearing to address concerns whether he is competent to stand trial in that case.

Deputies respond to disturbance call

At 12:28 p.m. Monday, the sheriff’s office dispatched a deputy to Cole’s home after receiving the domestic violence report. The responding deputy first spoke with the person who reported the disturbance before approaching the home.

But as the deputy approached the home, he noticed the children in the car parked in the drive-way. The car was not running, and all but one of the windows was closed. Two other deputies arrived to assist, and they began rendering medical aid until the newborn became responsive.

Both children were rushed to Manatee Memorial Hospital to be treated. Deputies say they also numerous sores and bite marks, but were reported to be in stable condition.

The temperature outside was about 93 degrees, with a heat index of 102 degrees, the deputy noted. The temperature inside the car was likely much higher.

The children had been left in the car at least 15 to 20 minutes, the deputy estimated, based on the time it took from when the sheriff’s office dispatched him, to when he arrived to speak to the reporting party and then walked up to the home.

When deputies tried speaking to Cole inside her home, she became “very hostile,” balling her fists and becoming more agitated as deputies asked her questions, according to the report. They say she began to approach them and threatened to fight them, at which point she was immediately taken into custody, but she continued to verbally assault the deputies.

A deputy was trying to find some of the children’s personal items to take to the hospital when they discovered the conditions in the home.

Herald staff writer Mark Young contributed to this report.

A two-year-old died July 29, 2019, in a hot van outside Ceressa’s Day Care & Preschool in Oakland Park, the Broward Sheriff's Office said.

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