An Alabama grandfather was arrested on Wednesday for reckless manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide after leaving his 2-year-old grandson in a hot vehicle, reported authorities.
William “Bill” Wiesman, 56, told officers that he thought he dropped off his grandson, Ian Wiesman, at day care on Tuesday morning. He stated that he did not realize the toddler was still in his car seat as he drove to work.
Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey stated that throughout Wiesman’s workday, he returned to his truck three times without noticing the child strapped into the forward-facing car seat behind the driver’s seat.
After seven hours, around 3 p.m., Wiesman drove to the day care intending to pick up the child, when he realized his grandson was in the truck’s back seat.
Casey said, “He went back to the day care thinking he had left the child there, but had been in the vehicle three times that day from the time he picked the child up until the time he returned to the day care.”
Authorities reported that the 2-year-old boy succumbed to heatstroke after enduring temperatures around 90 degrees.
The charges brought against Wiesman were announced during a news conference on Wednesday.
During the conference, Casey held back tears when describing the incident. “It’s awful. My heart breaks for this family,” she said.
Law enforcement reported that they believe the death was unintentional, but the investigation is still ongoing. “These are not intentional acts. These are negligent acts and or reckless acts,” Casey stated.
Oneonta Police Chief Charles Clifton told reporters, “I believe everyone I saw 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 an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
According to Kids and Car Safety, at least 30 children have died in the United States this year after being left in hot vehicles.
“Changes in the way we transport children in vehicles appear to have caused deadly unintended consequences. In the mid-1990’s, children were being killed by overpowered airbags, when traveling in the front passenger seat. Safety advocates, government, and the auto industry all worked together to ensure children would ride in the back seat to prevent these unthinkable tragedies,” Kids and Car Safety wrote in a data analysis regarding hot car deaths.
“Unfortunately, no modifications were put in place to compensate for this change. This has resulted in at least 1,018 hot car deaths (compared to approx. 186 child front seat passenger airbag deaths),” the organization stated, referring to data collected from 1990 to 2021.
The organization urged that all vehicles come equipped with a child detection and reminder system that would alert drivers if an occupant is left in the vehicle.
Kids and Car Safety reported that most deaths, approximately 56%, from 1990 to 2021 were caused by parents and guardians forgetting the child in the vehicle’s back seat. Of the children left in vehicles unknowingly, 42% of the drivers believed they had already dropped the child off at day care.