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Father charged in daughter’s accidental death described as a loving, caring man

By Staff | Jul 21, 2010

A Cape Coral man charged in connection with his young daughter’s March death after she was left in a hot car is described by co-workers, friends and day care personnel as a loving, caring man, documents released Wednesday show.
Those same documents from the State’s Attorney’s Office state Reginald A. McKinnon, 38, of 1723 N.E. First Terrace, showed pictures of his three daughters to co-workers on the fateful day, Monday, March 8. He also spent about an hour away from work eating lunch with another co-worker while Payton was strapped in the 2002 Ford SUV with temperatures inside hovering near 100 degrees.
On the day Payton L. McKinnon, 18 months, died, her mother, Julia McKinnon, 38, a school teacher, had taken her and her two older sisters to day care at the Methodist Church nearby. Reginald McKinnon picked Payton up just after 8 a.m. and returned to work at 11:09 a.m., forgetting his daughter in the back of his SUV at CenturyLink, 1520 Lee St. Payton had recently had ear surgery and had a follow-up doctor’s appointment.
He returned to the car at 3:29 p.m. to find his daughter dead. He was clutching the girl and crying uncontrollably, according to reports.
She was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Reginald McKinnon’s e-mail, cellular telephone and work check-in records show he went about his usual routine after returning from the doctor’s appointment.
He left for lunch between 2 and 2:15 p.m. and returned about 3 p.m., records show.
His wife said she was told to call McKinnon, who was crying so much she couldn’t understand him. She finally found out what had happened.
One co-worker, Stephanie Cunningham, told Fort Myers Police detectives she left work that day at 2 p.m. She felt bad “and I beat myself up for it.” She stopped and looked at the back of the SUV, but didn’t notice anything remiss.
“I just look at that truck for some reason. I just stopped and looked at that truck,” she said. “I looked at the back of that truck, but I didn’t see, something made me, I didn’t know, something made me stop and I looked at the back of the truck and I thought ‘Stephanie, what are you doing looking at his truck,’ you know.”
McKinnon is charged with one count of leaving a child unattended in a motor vehicle causing great bodily harm. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted.
His attorney, Mark Ringsmuth, was not available for comment Wednesday afternoon, a person who answered his work telephone said. McKinnon has pleaded not guilty.
McKinnon was not arrested nor booked into the Lee County Jail, Samantha Syoen, the State’s Attorney’s spokeswoman said in an earlier interview. An officer with the State Attorney’s office served him with a capias, or charging document. It was served more than three months after Payton’s death.