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A 9-year-old girl in Alabama died Monday after being made to run for three hours as punishment for eating a candy bar, according to police.
The Etowah County Sheriff's Department told reporters that after Savannah Hardin was forced to run outside her home on Friday afternoon by her grandmother, Joyce Hardin Garrard, 46, and stepmother Jessica Mae Hardin, 27. The child was being punished for eating chocolate given to her by a friend.
The running allegedly caused Savannah to become dehydrated and have a seizure. She was rushed to the hospital, where she was kept on life support while her father, who is a contractor employed by the U.S. State Department overseas, returned to Alabama.
Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin told WHNT News that Robert Hardin had to take eight flights to get home so he could see his daughter before she was taken off the respirator keeping her alive.
"Our heart goes out to him," Entrekin told the news station. "He's overseas working for his family and for the government. He comes home and now he's got a daughter dead, a wife in jail, and a mother in jail."
While relatives say she had a bladder condition that prohibited her from eating chocolate, District Attorney Jimmie Harp told reporters there is no evidence the condition contributed to her death. An autopsy report showed that the girl was extremely dehydrated and had a very low sodium level and state pathologists have ruled the death a homicide.
"She was 65 pounds, and basically she was caused to undergo physical exertion to the point where she just dehydrated and her electrolyte levels got to the point where she couldn't sustain life," Harp said.
Both women have been arrested on charges of murder and are being held on bail of $500,000 each. The AP reported that authorities have stepped in to oversee the care Robert and Jessica Hardin's 3-year-old son as well as the baby she gave birth to hours after her arrest.
Megan Sayers is the managing editor for ModernMom. Follow her on Twitter @MeganSayers