Hartsville father charged in daughter's death seeks to raise child safety awareness

Sophia died of hyperthermia after being left in a car. Her father is charged in connection with her death.

Richie Gray lost his

13-month-old daughter Sophia Jane Goyeneche-Gray last month

, when police say he left her in a hot car

for several hours outside his job.

He's charged with Unlawful Neglect of a Child.

Sophia died of hyperthermia due to the extreme heat


and her death has been ruled an accident, according to Darlington County Coroner Todd Hardee.

Gray is now part of a community group working to raise awareness of child safety.

"It was a promise to my daughter. I promised her the last time I saw her that you know daddy would make it right. So, I'm just a father trying to keep a promise to his daughter. I just want the awareness to spread like wildfire," said Gray.

The group held its second meeting Friday at the Hartsville City Hall.



s made up of law enforcement officers, educators, social workers, ministers and parents.

The group formed because of Sophia's death, but also in response to six other children who died tragically in Hartsville in the past year.

Gray said it's unfortunate he had to learn his lesson the hard way. He said grieves for her everyday and hopes other parents will learn from his mistake.

"We're trying to get through it, but also bring awareness.You know we've almost

had to put aside our grief


so that other people doesn't have to go through the same stuff."

Gray said he misses Sophia dearly and thinks of her everyday.

"She was the light of my life

, y

ou know. There wasn't a day go by that she didn't smile, you know. I mean not a person she met that they didn't smile back at her."

The group will continue to hold community meetings on ways prevention strategies regarding child safety throughout the year.