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Platte County Attorney/Coroner Carl Hart Jr. on Friday announced that he is not pursuing charges against the mother of a 2-year-old child who died after being left in a hot car in Columbus earlier this summer.

Hart, through a released statement to The Telegram, said that the manner of death was ruled accidental and that he is declining to file a child abuse/homicide charge relating to the hyperthermia death of the toddler who was left in a parked vehicle for eight hours after his mom believed that she dropped him off at a Columbus day care provider on Aug. 7.

Criminal liability, Hart said, requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the mother acted in conscious and knowing disregard that her child was left in the vehicle unattended for any period of time. Because the mother did not consciously disregard the substantial and unjustifiable risk associated with leaving an infant unattended in a vehicle, it was determined that her actions lacked criminal intent. Thus, no criminal prosecution is being initiated, Hart said.

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According to Hart, an investigation completed by the Columbus Police Department revealed that the mother drove the family van from her home located in an outlying community to Columbus where she worked, with the child being placed properly in a child safety seat, facing backward, located behind the driver’s seat.

The mother, Hart said, mistakenly believed that she dropped the child off at a local daycare provider and instead drove past the turnoff for the daycare just before reaching her place of employment. She then parked the van in a sun-exposed parking spot, he said.

The mother’s mistaken memory was relied upon during her full work shift and after work, Hart said that she drove the van from work to the daycare to retrieve the child, only to learn that he had never been dropped off. That was when the mom realized that the child had accidentally been left unattended in the van all day, Hart said.

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News Editor

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram, Schuyler Sun and The Banner-Press newspapers. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2015.

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