Grandmother charged after Ontario boy found dead in hot car

Matthew Coutts
Daily BrewJuly 5, 2013
Grandmother charged after Ontario boy found dead in hot car

In the past few weeks, two Canadian children have died after being found inside overheated cars, but police in Edmonton and the Toronto area say that's where the similarities end.

For the families of Maximus Huyskens, of Milton, Ont., and Edmonton’s Tsi-Tsi Chitekedza, the tragedy is the same, the mourning will play out the same. Criminally, in terms of laying responsibility, anyway, there is one key difference.

One child found her own way into the vehicle on her own and the other was allegedly left there by his caregiver.

Halton Regional Police say they have criminally charged the grandmother of two-year-old Maximus Huyskens, after he died while left alone in a hot car on June 26.

[ Related: Death of tot who died in hot vehicle ruled non-criminal ]

Leslie McDonald, 51, faces charges of criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessities of life. The allegations have not been proven in court.

CBC News reports that a similar case in Edmonton has been declared non-criminal after police determined the child found her own way into the car, before she was found unconscious on Tuesday. Three-year-old Tsi-Tsi Chitekedza died in hospital that evening.

Mother Grace Vela told the network the girl had returned from playing at a neighbourhood water park, and somehow found her way into the family's unlocked car.

[ More Brew: Edmonton child dies after being found in overheated car ]

The Canadian Safety Council says such deaths are preventable and most often caused by either forgetful caregivers or those who think a few minutes alone won't hurt the child.

"The Canada Safety Council urges parents and caregivers to be aware of and recognize the inherent dangers of leaving a child unattended, especially in a confined space such as a car on a hot day," the group said in a recent statement.

The tragedy in both cases in clear. No right-minded parent or grandparent would intentionally harm a child. But when it comes to the law, a clear line has been drawn. We should know better than leaving a child alone.

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