Great-Grandparents Charged in AR Toddler’s Hot Car Death
(Ft. Smith, AR) The great-grandparents of 2-year-old Joniah Darius Chronister who died in a hot car in Walmart parking lot are charged with negligent homicide, Springdale police confirmed Friday.
William James Staten, 51, and Margette Inise Staten, 61, both of Springdale, were taken into police custody and interviewed Friday afternoon.
The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory found that Joniah’s death was caused by environmental hyperthermia, which is a fatal heat stroke, according to Lt. Kevin Lewis with the Springdale Police Department.
Police got a 911 call at 4:40 p.m. on Aug. 3. Joniah was in the dark-colored Ford Focus with the windows up and no air conditioning for two hours, police said.
The great-grandparents, who were shopping for school supplies, told police he was only in the car for 50 minutes.
When emergency responders arrived, the boy had already been taken out of the car and into the store’s lobby. EMTs performed CPR before taking the child to Northwest Medical Center in Springdale, where he was pronounced dead.
Rescue crews said the temperature likely rose to 150 degrees inside the Ford Focus. It was 102 degrees outside that day.