NEWPORT, N.H. (WHDH) - Police in Newport, New Hampshire, are investigating after a 2-year-old girl was found dead in the bitter cold early Monday morning, officials said.
Investigators believe the girl left her house overnight and then couldn’t get back in, according to the Newport Police Department.
“The preliminary investigation has revealed that the child left the residence on her own in the early morning hours and was not able to regain entry,” the department said in a press release.
Family members have identified the girl as Sofia Van Schoick.
A neighbor told police that he woke up around 4 a.m. to the sound of a child crying but couldn’t see anything. He and his girlfriend found the girl about three hours later at the bottom of a set of stairs outside 10 Maple St. She was wearing only pajamas.
“We’ll never know what happened,” the girl’s grandfather, who did not show his face on camera, told 7News. “Why didn’t she go back up the stairs? Did she fall down the stairs? We don’t know.”
Temperatures dipped below zero in Newport overnight.
“We were experiencing very frigid temperatures,” Newport Police Chief Jim Burroughs said. “That appears to be certainly playing a factor in this death.”
Preliminary autopsy results showed Van Schoick died from hypothermia and exposure to the elements.
Burroughs is calling the girl’s death an “accident.”
Van Schoick was said to be “very precocious, very active and a very happy” girl.
A makeshift memorial has been set up at the scene of the tragedy.
An investigation is ongoing.
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