An Alabama grandfather was arrested Wednesday for reckless manslaughter and criminal negligence after leaving his 2-year-old grandson in a hot car, authorities reported.
William “Bill” Wiesman, 56, told officers he thought he dropped off his grandson, Ian Wiesman, at the nursery on Tuesday morning. He stated that he did not realize the toddler was still in his car seat when he drove to work.
Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey stated that Wiesman returned to his truck three times during his workday without noticing that the child was strapped into the forward-facing car seat behind the driver’s seat.
After seven, about 3 p.m., Wiesman was driving to the nursery with the intention of picking up the child, when he realized that his grandson was in the back seat of the truck.
Casey said: “He went back to the nursery because he thought he had left the child there, but he had been in the vehicle three times that day from the time he picked up the child to the moment he returned to the nursery. “
Authorities reported that the 2-year-old boy succumbed to heat stroke after enduring temperatures of around 90 degrees.
The charges against Wiesman were announced during a press conference on Wednesday.
During the conference, Casey held back her tears as she described the incident. “It’s terrible. My heart breaks for this family,” she said.
Police said they believe the death was accidental, but the investigation is ongoing. “These are not intentional acts. These are negligent acts and/or reckless acts,” said Casey.
Oneonta Police Chief Charles Clifton told reporters, “I believe everyone I’ve seen on the scene has children, so it’s extremely difficult to be involved in something like that.”
It is currently unclear whether the grandfather has a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.
At least 30 children have died in the United States this year after being left in hot vehicles, according to Kids and Car Safety.
“Changes in the way we transport children in vehicles seem to have deadly unintended consequences. In the mid-1990s, children died from overloaded airbags while sitting in the front passenger seat. Safety advocates, the government and the auto industry all worked together to ensure children would ride in the backseats to prevent these unimaginable tragedies,” Kids and Car Safety wrote in a data analysis on hot car deaths.
“Unfortunately, no changes have been made to compensate for this change. This has resulted in at least 1,018 deaths from hot cars (compared to about 186 deaths from children’s front airbags),” the organization said, citing data collected from 1990 to 2021.
The organization insisted that all vehicles be equipped with a child detection and reminder system that warns drivers if an occupant is left in the vehicle.
Kids and Car Safety reported that most deaths, about 56%, from 1990 to 2021 were caused by parents and guardians who forgot the child in the back seat of the vehicle. Of the children who were unknowingly left in vehicles, 42% of drivers thought they had already dropped off the child at the nursery.
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