A man has been arrested after an apparent attempt at disciplining his would-be stepson took a deadly turn.
The soldier in the US state of Alabama was charged with reckless murder after allegedly forcing his girlfriend’s unruly five-year-old son to get out of a car at night along a road where the boy was ultimately hit and killed by another vehicle, authorities said.
Army Sgt Bryan Starr, 35, surrendered to officials in Russell County after being charged in the death of Austin Birdseye, Sheriff Heath Taylor told a news conference Monday (local time).
Starr and the child’s mother, Christina Birdseye, 33, share a home in southeast Alabama near a local army base.
Starr told investigators the boy began acting up in the car as they travelled on a highway near their home Sunday night, so he pulled his Dodge Charger into a church parking lot and made the boy get out in the rain, Mr Taylor said.
The child’s mother was not in the vehicle, he added.
The man lost sight of the child but soon saw cars stopped in the road. It was there that the boy had been struck by an oncoming Toyota Avalon.
The road was dark and the boy was hard to see, and the driver of the Toyota was not at fault, Mr Taylor said.
“We have their information and we’ve spoken to them, and will speak to them again. But at this point, there’s no indication that they had any chance of not hitting the little guy,” Taylor said, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.
The child died in hospital and Starr was charged with murder because he showed reckless disregard for the child’s safety, police said.
Boy, 5, kicked out of car for being loud
An online campaign meant to raise money for the boy’s family said Austin often sang along with songs “at the top of his lungs” while in the car, but the sheriff said he could not understand the man’s actions.
“What do you say to that? What is your thought process when you tell a five-year-old to get out of the car on a rainy night, because they were being loud in the car?” he said. “It’s just heartbreaking.”
The GoFundMe set up to support the family has far eclipsed its $5,000 target.
“Austin was always the centre of any impromptu living room dance party, the wonderful little boy who would chat about almost anything and with anyone in the grocery store, was the one who knew all the words to every song,” the page says.
“He was always loving and never let any opportunity pass him by to enjoy fun. We are absolutely devastated by Austin’s passing.”
Court records were not available on Tuesday to show whether Starr had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
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