COLUMBIA, S.C. — A sheriff said no charges will be filed against a South Carolina father whose 20-month-old boys died from heat after he forgot to drop them off at daycare and left them in his vehicle because he was under intense pressure at work.
Watching investigators interview the father was one of the most heartbreaking things Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said he has seen in his 46 years in law enforcement.
“He didn’t mean to do it. God, he didn’t mean to do it. He’s got to live with that the rest of his life,” Lott said at a Tuesday news conference.
The father found his sons dead still strapped in their car seats late in the afternoon Sept. 1 after he went into the daycare in Blythewood and was told the children were not there, investigators said.
Brycen and Brayden McDaniel died from exposure to the heat as temperatures inside the SUV reached 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius) on a muggy late summer day, Richland County Coroner Nadia Rutherford said.
The father worked at a nearby manufacturing plant and his mind was clouded by work problems that day, the sheriff said.
“The father was under some intense pressure at work that really had his mind somewhere else that day. In his mind, he really believed he dropped the two boys off at day care,” Lott said.
After a thorough investigation, the sheriff said what stuck in his mind was that interview with the distraught father, whose name he did not release since no charges were filed.
“The pure emotion that came out was not something you could fake,” Lott said.
The coroner said the deaths may have been prevented with alarms that sound when a child is left in the backseat of a SUV or if the daycare had called the family when the sons did not arrive.
Both the sheriff and coroner asked for prayers for the family and the community as they deal with the deaths.
“Everybody that was involved in this case has been touched by it. The Coroner’s Office, the EMS workers, the dispatchers, our deputies have all went through counseling,” Lott said.