Fund started for family of three-year-old Etowah County victim of apparent accident

GADSDEN, Alabama -- Friends of the family of a three-year-old whose heat-related death last week authorities are calling an apparent accident have started a fund to help pay for medical and burial expenses.

Jaylen Hammett, of Altoona, was discovered inside an unlocked car Sept. 1 unresponsive. He was later taken to Children's Hospital, where he died Friday. His funeral will be Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Morgan Funeral Chapel in Attalla.

Holly Moody, a friend of the Hammett family, said she began a page on Facebook, PRAY for JAY, to help show support for the family. The page now has nearly 2,500 followers. As a result, the "Jay Jay Hammett Fund" has been established at The Exchange Bank to take donations. Donations may be mailed to P.O. Box 127, Altoona, Alabama 35952.

Moody said Hammett's mother Kara is a young single mother working three jobs who is "devastated" by her son's death.

"She's in shock like any young mother would be," Moody said. "But she has a lot of family support, and the love of her friends. We started the prayer page because she's needed support, and it's been great how many people have responded."

In a news release, Entrekin said the boy and his mother were inside the house taking a nap last Sunday. The mother woke up some time later and was unable to find the boy inside the home. When she went to look outside, she discovered the boy, unresponsive, inside an unlocked vehicle.

On the prayer page, Kara said the child apparently got into the car and buckled the top of his car seat and was unable to get out.

Hammett's death is the third heat-related death of a child involving a car this summer in Alabama. In August, Anniston Police charged Katherine Papke with manslaughter in the death of her son, four-month-old Bennett Owen Smith.

In July, 11-month-old Gabriella Gi-Ny Luong of Homewood was discovered by her mother Katie Luong still strapped in her car seat in a locked Lexus parked outside the family's Genesis Nail Spa. The mother in that case has not been charged in the child's death.