Florida Father Troy Whitaker Charged After 2-Year-Old Spends Eight Hours In Hot Truck And Dies, GoFundMe Page Shut Down [Video]
Florida father Troy Whitaker has been arrested and charged for the hot car death of his 2-year-old son. The 2-year-old’s death and his father’s arrest took place on Friday; that’s when 41-year-old Troy Whitaker was charged with aggravated manslaughter in connection with his son’s tragic and preventable death. As CNN reports, Lawson Whitaker died after being left in the backseat of his father’s truck for roughly eight hours in the Florida heat. Florida father Troy Whitaker reportedly left his home with both of his children that morning. He dropped his 5-year-old daughter off at school, but forgot to drop his toddler off at daycare.
Troy Whitaker charged with agg manslaughter in hot car death of his son. Whitaker is a firefighter in Hills. Co. pic.twitter.com/csAK4JFgN0
— Clifton French/REAL News Michiana (@CliffFrenchTV) September 10, 2016
After allegedly forgetting to drop his small son off at daycare, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office says that the Florida father continued to run errands. Troy Whitaker reportedly drove around with his child in the backseat of his truck all day without realizing that the little boy was alongside for the ride. While Troy Whitaker’s entire Friday itinerary isn’t clear, investigators do know that the 2-year-old was in the truck from roughly 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and apparently the Florida father’s last stop was at the grocery store. This detail was noted by police who arrived on scene and found Troy Whitaker’s driveway covered with the food and other items he dropped when he realized his son was in the back seat.
“It was evident that he didn’t realize that the child was in the backseat until he arrived home from Publix. He was taking the groceries out of the front passenger seat and immediately dropped the bags — there are groceries all over the driveway — and then went and took the child out of the car seat.”
Florida father Troy Whitaker is a firefighter by profession, and according to police reports, after he found his son overheated and unresponsive in the backseat of his Chevy truck, he immediately began to perform CPR. At some point shortly after discovering his son and realizing what had happened to the 2-year-old, Whitaker contacted emergency personnel and they got to the scene within a few minutes.
First responders report that the Florida father’s efforts to save his son were totally in vain. By the time Troy Whitaker’s CPR attempts began, his 2-year-old was dead and had been for some time. Investigators indicate that little Lawson’s car seat had been placed right behind the truck’s driver seat, and somehow the Florida father says he simply didn’t notice or remember the child for eight hours. It’s unclear at this time if the child remained silent throughout the entire ride, if the radio was playing loud enough to drown out any sounds the child might have made as he became overheated, or what time police believe the 2-year-old might have lost consciousness.
Florida firefighter arrested for forgetting toddler in a steaming-hot pickup truck: Troy Whitaker, a 41-year-… https://t.co/2t7FvF3qBf
— . (@HOESARTORIUS) September 12, 2016
First responders and investigators have reported that when he was removed from the vehicle, the little boy had an “extremely high body temperature.” As for Florida father Troy Whitaker, he was reportedly distraught and shaken by what had happened to his son.
“As you can imagine, he was extremely upset — visibly upset.”
Paramedics transported the unresponsive child to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Following his Friday arrest, Florida father Troy Whitaker was jailed on aggravated manslaughter charges and spent the night at the Pinellas County Jail. As Fox News reports, his bail was set at $50,000, and he was released on bail on Saturday morning. It isn’t clear who posted the bond amount. Following the arrest of the Florida father, a GoFundMe page was reportedly created. Not to help raise money for his deceased son’s memorial or final expenses, but to help pay for Troy Whitaker’s legal defense as he tries to fight the charges levied against him following his son’s tragic hot car death.
According to the GoFundMe campaign, Florida father Troy Whitaker is (or was, his post-arrest employment status is unclear as of Monday morning) a Hillsborough County Fire Rescue paramedic and firefighter. Also according to the GoFundMe campaign, he and his family can’t afford to pay the legal fees that will continue to accrue as the Florida father tries to fight the aggravated manslaughter charges he’s facing after allegedly forgetting to drop his son off at daycare.
— TAKEBACK (@TAKEBACKOCH) September 11, 2016
However, despite raising over $6,500, the GoFundMe page reportedly created to fund the legal defense of Florida father Troy Whitaker has been shut down. It is unknown whether the crowd funding campaign was ended by GoFundMe or whomever created it it, but it’s no longer active. So far, neither the website nor the campaign’s creator have spoken to media requests to answer questions about the campaign.
It is also unclear whether or not the friends/family of Florida father Troy Whitaker will attempt to continue to use the site to raise funds for the firefighter’s legal defense.
On average, 37 American children lose their lives every year after being left in a hot car. However, 2016 has seen a rash of hot car-related deaths, and little Lawson Whitaker was the 29th child to die in a hot car this year alone. While dozens of children die in hot cars every year, not every hot car death results in criminal charges for the child’s parent/caretaker. The decision whether or not to press charges generally depends on both the circumstances of the hot car death and the jurisdiction. The nature of criminal charges associated with a child’s hot car death can also vary widely.
Florida man charged after 23-month-old baby dies in hot car. https://t.co/SPrwEd2jVX
— WBAY-TV 2 (@WBAY) September 10, 2016
In the case of Florida father Troy Whitaker, Heavy reports that the his son’s body temperature was an incredible 108 degrees when he was discovered. Pinellas County authorities have not indicated that they believe the child was intentionally killed, but they do believe that someone needs to be held responsible for Lawson’s senseless death.
“It’s not an intentional act. I’m not saying it is. What I’m saying is that you got to be responsible for kids, and you can’t leave ’em in the car for eight hours and let their body temperature get to 108 degrees and they die.”
What do you think? Are the charges appropriate for the alleged crime in this case? Should the GoFundMe campaign have been shut down? Do you think Florida father Troy Whitaker deserves to be convicted in the death of his son?
[Image via Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office]