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Georgia man charged with leaving son to die in sweltering car

Atlanta man charged with murder after leaving his 22-month-old son in hot car for 7 hours

A 33-year-old Georgia man has been charged with felony murder after leaving his 22-month-old son in a sweltering car on Wednesday, police said.

Justin Ross Harris, of Marietta, Ga., said he forgot that his son was in the backseat of Hyundai Tuscon, and left him strapped into a car seat for nearly seven hours while he went to work, police said.

The child was left in 88-degree heat, and was discovered dead outside the Akers Mill Square shopping center in Marietta about 4:30 p.m., according to a copy of a warrant charging Harris with murder.

Cobb County Police Sgt. Dana Pierce told the Los Angeles Times that officers arrived to find a crowd circling Harris' car.

The child was lying on the ground, and first responders tried to render medical aid, but the toddler was pronounced dead a short time later, Pierce said.

Harris reportedly left his home in the morning and went to work at a "corporate location," forgetting that the child was in the car, Pierce said. He discovered his son in the backseat when he arrived at the shopping center, according to Pierce.

Harris is charged with felony murder and cruelty to a child, police said. Harris became involved in a scuffle with officers shortly after his son was pronounced dead, Pierce said.

"He was very vocal, he was physical with officers and he had to be restrained," Pierce said.

The Cobb County Medical Examiner will release an official cause of death, Pierce said.

There are 15 to 25 heat stroke deaths each year of children who are left unattended in cars,  according to a 2010 report in the Washington Post.

Janette Fennell, president of the Kansas-based child safety group KidsAndCars, told The Times that there have been at least 13 such deaths this year. 

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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