“The father was under some intense pressure at work that really had his mind somewhere else that day.”
A South Carolina father whose children died in a hot car after he forgot to drop them off at daycare will not be charged.
Twin boys Bryson and Brayden McDaniel, 20 months, were found dead strapped into the back seat of their family SUV, after their dad realized he had accidentally left them there for the entire day.
He made the horrific discovery after driving to Sunshine House Early Learning Academy in Blythewood on September 1 at 5:30 to pick them up, only to be told he never dropped them off in the first place.
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On Tuesday, an emotional Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told a press conference that there was no criminality, and the incident was “a horrible, horrible tragic accident.”
“I’ve stood up here and done a lot pf press conferences in 25 years as Sheriff, and this is probably one of the saddest ones I’ve had to stand up here and do,” he told reporters.
“The father was under some intense pressure at work that really had his mind somewhere else that day. And in his mind he had really believed he had dropped the two boys off at the daycare. There was no doubt in his mind that he had done that.”
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The Sheriff said that while those work issues weren’t the cause of the accident, “they contributed to it.” He also said that during police interviews with the father, the “pure emotion that came out was not something that you could fake.”
“He went to work, thought he’d dropped his children off, worked throughout the day, went to pick his children up, and discovered that they were not in the daycare center… that he’d left them in the car.”
He said that everything that could have been medically done to revive the babies was attempted, “but it was too late.”
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The Sheriff said many who had been involved in the case had to go to counseling afterward.
“You don’t even have to be a parent for something like this to have an impact on you, on your heart and on your life,” he said. “It’s a parents worst nightmare, it’s also a community’s worst nightmare.”
Sheriff Lott assured there were no facets they didn’t check or verify, and that ultimately prosecutors decided there was no criminal case to answer. He called for prayers from the community, many of whom had vouched for the young father.
“Their life will never be the same. Nothing is going to replace these two boys. Nothing is going to take away the pain that this family is going to feel, particularly the father,” he said.
It was determined the twins had been left in the car — where temperatures would have reached 120 degrees — for more than 9.5 hours. According to coroner Nadia Rutherford, they would not have survived very long.
“The normal body temperature is 98.6, and so when you start going above that, even a fever of 105, 104 can cause febrile seizures, and even death,” she told the conference. “And so you have to think that the heat index in that car was 120 degrees at its maximum from what we believe… so it didn’t take long.”
She begged parents not to switch off the “irritating” back seat reminder feature on newer cars, which sounds an alarm to notify drivers when there’s a child seat in use. She also pleaded with all daycare centers to contact families whenever children are not dropped off as expected: “It could save a life.”
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