3 children dead after becoming trapped in freezer in north Florida, sheriff says

Investigators in the Florida Panhandle said three young children have died after being found unresponsive inside of a freezer Sunday evening.

Suwannee County sheriff's deputies responded to a home after receiving a 911 call about children that were found not breathing inside of a chest freezer that had been left in the yard.

First responders found family members performing CPR on the children, ages 1, 4 and 6 years old.

Paramedics rushed the children to a nearby hospital, but investigators said resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful.

The sheriff's office said a preliminary investigation has revealed that the children had been playing outside in the yard when they climbed inside of a chest freezer that had recently been brought to the residence.

The appliance had not yet been plugged in or brought inside.

An adult who was home at the time told deputies she had gone inside to use the restroom, but could not find the children when she went back out to the yard. The woman woke up another woman who had been sleeping inside the house in order to search for the children on the property and at a nearby vacant home.

They discovered all three children not breathing when they opened up chest freezer, and began CPR and called 911.

According to the sheriff's office, an after-market clasp had been installed on the freezer lid in order to secure a padlock on it. Investigators said they believe the clasp fell shut when the children closed the freezer lid, trapping them inside. There was no padlock on the freezer.

Officials say the children lived at the house with their mothers, who are roommates. Two of the children were siblings.

The Florida Department of Children and Families has been notified, but the sheriff's office said foul play is not suspected in the incident.

The case will be forwarded to prosecutors for review.

FOX 13 reported this story from Tampa.