The South Carolina father whose twin 20-month-old sons died recently after he left them in a hot car for more than nine hours will not be charged in their deaths, authorities announced this week.
What are the details?
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott characterized the incident as a “horrible, horrible, tragic accident” while speaking with reporters on Tuesday, according to NBC News.
Lott said the father genuinely believed he had dropped off the two boys, Bryson and Brayden McDaniel, at day care before heading in to work on Sept. 1. But he hadn’t, and the two boys were left in the back seat of the sweltering car during the entirety of the father’s day at work.
The father allegedly made the discovery after driving back to the Sunshine House Early Learning Academy just outside Columbia after leaving work that day. When he arrived at the day care, staff informed him that he hadn’t dropped the boys off that day. That’s when he returned to the car and found them unresponsive in a rear-facing seat.
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According to an autopsy, the boys died of hyperthermia induced by the extreme temperatures. The heat index in the car that day reportedly reached as high as 120 degrees. Authorities noted the autopsy did not show any physical signs of trauma or abuse.
Lott claimed that the man had been dealing with extraordinary pressures at work that likely caused him to make the fatal mistake.
“The father was under some intense pressure at work that really had his mind somewhere else that day,” the sheriff said at a news conference. “And in his mind, he really believed that he had dropped the two boys off at day care. There was no doubt in his mind that he had done that.”
Lott declined to go into further detail, but added, “There were some things going on at work, not your normal work activities, just some things that were going on that he was dealing with at work that contributed to it.”
The sheriff recounted that his interview with the father, who has not been identified, was “heart-wrenching” and noted that “the pure emotion that came out was not something that you could fake.”
The father reportedly worked at a manufacturing plant in Richland County.
Lott added in conversation with reporters that the incident has taken its toll on investigators and members of the community.
“This is something that will get you. … You don’t even have to be a parent for something like this to emotionally have an impact on you,” he said. “It’s tragic. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. It’s also a community’s worst nightmare, too, because so many people cared about these two young people.”
But the ultimate burden, he said, will be carried by that father.
“He didn’t mean to do it,” Lott concluded. “He’s going to have to live with that the rest of his life.”