A father has been charged with first-degree murder and cruelty to children after he left his 22-month-old toddler in a hot car for 7 hours while he went to work.
Justin Ross Harris, 33, was left with the task of dropping his child off at daycare at 9 a.m. before going to work at a Home Depot. But the Atlanta dad reportedly forgot his child was strapped in a chair in the backseat and instead drove to work, not returning to his sport utility vehicle until 4 p.m. that day, the Daily Mail reports.
While driving home in the 91-degree heat, Harris reportedly realized his child was still in the car seat and that he was unresponsive. He pulled into the parking lot of Akers Mill Square shopping center and attempted to perform CPR on the boy, but he could not resuscitate the toddler, USA Today reports. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The dad kept saying, over and over again, “What have I done, what have I done,” reports one witness.
Police say they had to restrain Harris as they attempted to bring him in for questioning because he was so emotional. He is being held without bond in Cobb County Jail.
“It’s a very fine line sometimes between neglect and negligence … and whether that negligence reaches the level of criminal prosecution,” Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said. Deal recently announced a new campaign called “Look Again,” which urges parents to be more aware of the dangers of leaving their children and pets alone in a hot vehicle.
Harris, who is originally from Alabama, was reportedly working to buy a home with his wife so they could provide a larger living space with a backyard for their son.