Dad charged with murder after son dies in hot car

(USA Today) ATLANTA — A Georgia father was booked on murder charges Thursday after leaving his son to die in a hot car all day.

Justin Ross Harris, 34, of Marietta, Ga., went to work at around 9 a.m. Wednesday with his 22-month-old son in the back seat of his car, forgetting to drop him off at day care. As he was driving home around 4 p.m., he noticed that his son was still in his child seat, unresponsive

He pulled over at a shopping center parking lot and tried to perform cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, but the child, whose name was not released, was pronounced dead at the scene.

"It's tough to watch anyone pass but especially a small child," one witness said. Police had to restrain Harris because he was so distraught.

Harris is being held without bond in Cobb County Jail on charges of murder and cruelty to children, also a felony, according to online records from the Cobb County Sheriff's Office.

MONDAY: 9-month-old dies in hot car after dad goes to workEARLIER: Safety Council warns of threat to kids in hot cars

The toddler's death was the second this week of a child in a hot car. On Monday, a 9-month-old girl died in Rockledge, Fla., after her father forgot to drop her off at her sitter's house.

As of Thursday morning, no charges had been filed against Steven Lillie of Cocoa, Fla.

The National Safety Council recommends that parents leave something in the back seat of their vehicle that they need for work or their errands, such as a briefcase, purse or cellphone, to serve as a reminder of the child in the car seat.

On the day after Memorial Day, Georgia's governor announced a campaign called "Look Again" to make parents aware of the dangers of heat stroke for children and pets as the weather heats up.

"This is a warning. In only minutes, the inside of your car can become a death trap for a child," Gov. Nathan Deal said one of the public-service announcements. "You can be a hero. You can prevent a tragedy."

On Wednesday, the high in the Atlanta area was 91 degrees. And though it was around 70 degrees in the morning, temperatures can rise quickly inside a closed-up vehicle — 20 degrees in 10 minutes, 30 degrees in 20 minutes and 40 degrees in an hour.

Children are more susceptible to heatstroke, when body's internal temperature rises to 104 degrees, than adults. And unless any victims of heatstroke are cooled down quickly, they can die.

In 2013, 44 children across the USA died as a result of vehicle-related heat deaths, according to, a nonprofit child safety organization that monitors news sites and police reports involving children and vehicle accidents. Statistics also show that 12 other children in the U.S. died so far this year after being left in vehicles — and summer doesn't officially begin until Saturday.


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