Three children have died after getting trapped in an unplugged freezer while playing outside, police in Florida have said.
According to the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office, the youngsters could not be revived by the time they were found in the garden of a home in Live Oak on Monday.
Two of the children – a six-year-old boy and a one-year-old girl – were siblings and lived with their grandmother, and the third was a four-year-old girl who lived with her mother.
The two women are roommates at the property.
One of them had been sleeping at the time the children got trapped as she was preparing for a night shift, and the other was in the bathroom.
She could not find them upon returning, prompting the pair to carry out a search.
Eventually, they found the children in the chest freezer, which had been recently bought but not yet plugged in and had spent four or five days outside in the garden.
Police and fire and rescue crews were called to the scene as the women tried to perform CPR on the children, but efforts to resuscitate them failed and they were pronounced dead in hospital.
An investigation into the deaths is ongoing, with post-mortems still to be carried out.
So far police have revealed that the freezer was second-hand and had a hasp installed on the lid in order to secure a padlock, which had not yet been fitted.
When the lid slammed shut after the children had climbed in, the hasp fell shut and trapped them inside.
At a press briefing, Suwannee County Sheriff Sam St John said: “Words can’t describe how heartbroken I am.
“Any time you deal with children and something like this and when they die from something like this nature, it just tugs at your heartstrings. Words can’t describe this and the only thing we can do is go forward.”