Father of Twins Who Died in Hot Car Won't Be Charged, Deaths Ruled an Accident

A South Carolina father whose 20-month-old twin sons died after being left in a hot car when he forgot to drop them off at daycare will not face any charges, with the local sheriff explaining, "he didn't mean to do it."

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said that watching investigators interview the father who had forgotten the toddlers in his car because of intense pressure at work was one of the most heartbreaking things 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 incident was ruled an accident by the sheriff and the county coroner.

According to the nonprofit website KidsandCars.org, at least 22 children have died from being left in a hot car in 2021.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Toddler South Carolina Death
Authorities ruled the heat deaths of two 20-month-old twin boys an accident after the father was distracted by intense pressure at work and no charges will be filed. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, left, and Coroner Nadia Rutherford, right, talk about the deaths during a news conference on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, in Columbia, South Carolina. Jeffrey Collins/AP Photo

The father found his sons dead still strapped in their car seats late in the afternoon September 1 after he went into the daycare in Blythewood and was told the children were not there, investigators said.

Bryson and Brayden McDaniel died from exposure to the heat as temperatures inside the SUV reached 120 degrees Fahrenheit 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 daycare," 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 an 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.