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Toddler Dies of Exposure Outside Newport Apartment

  • A Newport Police officer leaves the residence on Maple Street where a young girl died after being found outside the apartment in Newport, N.H., on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. Newport Police Chief Jim Burroughs said the girl, who is 2½, may have left the house overnight and then couldn’t get back in. Temperatures overnight were below zero. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • The apartment building on Maple Street where a young girl died after being found outside the apartment is pictured in Newport, N.H., on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. Newport Police Chief Jim Burroughs said the girl, who is 2½, may have left the house overnight and then couldn’t get back in. Temperatures overnight were below zero. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Sofia Van Schoick in an undated photograph. (Family photograph)



Valley News Staff Writer
Monday, January 14, 2019

Newport — A 2 ½-year-old girl died of exposure this morning after she wandered outside her family’s Maple Street apartment in subzero temperatures and couldn’t make it back inside.

Newport Police Chief Jim Burroughs said the death of the girl is not considered suspicious and the situation “appears to be a bad accident.” Police did not release her name, but family members identified her as Sofia Van Schoick.

“For reasons that are unknown and probably will never be known, in the middle of the night, she decided to go outside and then wasn’t able to get back in,” Burroughs said. “At this time, the accident remains under investigation by the Newport Police Department and the Sullivan County Attorney’s Office.”

Neighbors alerted the family to the situation around 7 a.m. after they found the girl lifeless at the bottom of a set of stairs off a porch near a back apartment at 10 Maple St.

Ambulance personnel responded, but it was too late. The preliminary autopsy results suggest she died of exposure to the elements and hypothermia. The investigation into her death remains ongoing, Newport police said in a news release this afternoon. Temperatures had dropped to minus 8 degrees when her body was discovered, police said.

“Sofia was the happiest and smartest toddler you would have ever met,” her mother, Courtney Van Schoick, said. “She’s so loved and missed.”

The Van Schoick family had recently moved to Newport from Claremont. This past weekend was their first one in town, and the girl was unfamiliar with her surroundings, her grandfather, Lindsay Van Schoick, said as he stood on the porch just feet from where his granddaughter was found.

Sofia, a twin, was a “precocious” girl who lit up every room, he said. The family doesn’t know what led Sofia to leave the house early this morning and walk onto the porch, he said. Sofia was wearing pajamas at the time, and wasn’t able to make it back inside in the bitter cold.

“She was the sweetest little thing,” Lindsay Van Schoick said, his eyes welling. “…The biggest blue eyes I’d ever seen.”

The family was alerted to the situation by Shane Rowe and Stephanie MacIntyre, who live next door at 14 Maple St.

MacIntyre awoke around 4 a.m. to the sounds of a child crying, but after looking outside and not seeing anyone, the pair tried to go back to sleep. They assumed it could be an upset child in a downstairs unit of their apartment building, Rowe said.

Around 6 a.m., Rowe and MacIntyre woke their children for the day and about an hour later, MacIntyre went outside to start their cars. It was after that that Rowe looked out his second-story window and saw Sofia’s body.

“I said to her, ‘I hope … that that’s a doll,’ ” Rowe said. “She ran down frantically and found her.”

A family member scooped up Sofia and brought her inside.

“It’s a life gone too soon,” Lindsay Van Schoick said, “way too soon.”

Posted at 9:35 a.m. Updated at 11:30 a.m. and 4:35 p.m.