The mother of the four month old child who died from heat exposure after being left in a car says she simply forgot the infant was in the vehicle. Bennett Owen Smith died on Friday (August 9th) after being left for several hours inside his mother’s minivan while it was in the parking lot at the Ft McClellan Readiness Center.
Army Sergeant First Class Katherine Papke was questioned on Friday evening, and charged with Manslaughter and Leaving a Child Unattended in a Motor Vehicle – both felonies.
According to ABC/3340 – Papke’s attorney stated that his client had recently finished maternity leave and was returning to work at the Readiness Center. Her daughters – ages 7 and 8 – started school last Wednesday – and she walked them to school both that day and Thursday. Friday was the first day she had driven them to school and instead of turning into the daycare center which is about a half-mile from the Readiness Center, she continued on to work, inadvertently leaving the four month old asleep in the car.
Papke realized her mistake about 2:00 that afternoon, and after checking on her son, called 9-1-1. The infant was taken to Regional Medical Center – where he was pronounced dead. Afterwards, Papke was questioned by police, and at that point was charged.
She was transported to jail and has since bonded out of a $100,000 bond.
(Information provided by ABC 3340/WBRC TV and the Anniston Star/www.annistonstar.com)