Sheriff Shares Outcome of Probe Into Twins' Hot-Car Death

Dad will not be charged
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2021 4:50 PM CDT
Updated Sep 21, 2021 6:26 PM CDT
SC Twins Die After Being Left in Hot Car for Up To 9 Hours
File photo of a wireless monitor used to record the temperature outside and inside of a closed vehicle at St. Mary's Market Days in Evansville, Ind. Every summer, kids forgotten in hot cars die of heat stroke.   (Darrin Phegley/Evansville Courier & Press via AP)

Update: After an "intense investigation," police say they will not charge the man who accidentally left his 20-month-old identical twins in a hot car for more than 9 hours on Sept. 1; the two died of heat stroke. At a Tuesday news conference, Sheriff Leon Lott described the father as a professional who was "under some intense pressure" at the manufacturing plant he worked at, and that the pressure was a factor in his forgetting to drop the boys at daycare. "He didn’t mean to do it," said Lott, per the State. "He’s going to have to live with that the rest of his life." Our story from Sept. 2 follows:

Identical twin infant boys were found Tuesday in a car parked outside a daycare center near Columbia, South Carolina. Police came, and the boys, Bryson and Brayden McDaniel, were pronounced dead that evening. The coroner says the cause of death is probably heat stroke. Naida Rutherford, the Richland County coroner, said the boys “seem to be well taken care of by their family,” the State reports. The kids didn’t show other signs of abuse. “Comprehensive X-rays do not reveal any healing fractures or acute fractures. Their internal organs were developing normally,” Rutherford said. The daycare doesn’t appear to be involved, either, ABC Columbia reports.

The kids were found by one of their parents, but authorities didn’t say which parent. They were enrolled in the Sunshine House Early Learning Academy for daycare, and the parent who dropped them off appears to have forgotten to take them out of the car and just went to work instead. The babies were found at the end of the day. Police are investigating. It’s a tragically common occurrence. As many as three children have died in a hot car this year in South Carolina, and an average of 39 per year die in the US. Janette Fennell, president of Kids and Car Safety, said “the unfortunate reality is that this has happened to even the most loving, responsible, and attentive parents.” She offered tips for remembering a quiet kid in the back of the car and preventing tragedy, per the State.

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  • Put the child’s diaper bag or another item associated with the child in the front seat with you.
  • Get in the habit of always checking the back seat when parking.
  • Leave your purse, phone, or some other item you need at your destination in the back seat whenever you use your car.
  • Ask the child’s daycare provider to call you if your child doesn’t show up.
(More child dies in hot car stories.)

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