A day after a 2-year-old boy died from being left inside a hot car in east Alabama, authorities announced charges against the toddler’s grandfather.
In a news conference on Wednesday, Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey announced two warrants were issued for William “Bill” Wiesman. Though exact charges weren’t given, Casey specified the warrants are for reckless or criminally negligent acts, not intentional acts.
Wiesman was supposed to drop his 2-year-old grandson, Ian, off at the Kids Campus daycare in Oneonta Tuesday morning, but instead went straight to work reportedly thinking he had already dropped the child off.
Police said family members found the toddler dead inside the truck around 3:06 p.m. Tuesday from prolonged heat exposure.
The arrest warrant allegedly reported Wiesman returned to his truck three times throughout the day, even driving it around at one point, without noticing his grandson was still in the truck.
During the news conference, Casey added the toddler was sitting in a forward-facing car seat. When a reporter asked her to elaborate on that detail, Casey said children in forward-facing car seats can be seen in the driver’s rearview mirror, unlike a rear-facing car seat where an additional mirror may be necessary to see the child’s face.
Police said there is no evidence Wiesman has dementia or that he experienced a “medical episode” that could have contributed to the child’s death.
“As a mom, I don’t think anybody ever understands it,” Casey said with tears in her eyes after a long pause. “I didn’t sleep last night. I don’t understand it.”
The toddler was Alabama’s first pediatric vehicular heatstroke death of 2022 and the third to occur on Tuesday, bringing the overall death toll in the U.S. to 28, according to No Heatstroke.
“It’s awful when it happens anywhere. It’s awful when you have to work these cases, and then you go home to your babies, and you see what you see,” Casey said. “It’s awful. My heart breaks for this family.”
When asked what needs to happen across the country to keep these instances from occurring, Casey said she does not know.
“I don’t understand it,” Casey said. “I don’t know the answer. I’m not going to pretend I do.”
The National Safety Council recommends that parents and caregivers stick to a routine and avoid distractions.
“Place a purse, briefcase or even a left shoe in the back seat to force you to take one last look before walking away,” the NSC posted on its website. “Keep car doors locked, so children cannot gain access, and teach them that cars are not play areas. There is no safe amount of time to leave a child in a vehicle, even if you are just running a quick errand.”