PALM HARBOR (FOX 13) - A Hillsborough County firefighter apparently left his 23-month-old son in the back of his truck after dropping off his 5-year-old daughter this morning.
Pinellas County sheriff's deputies are investigating the death in Palm Harbor. Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Troy Whitaker left at 7:50 a.m. to drop his 5-year-old daughter off at Ozona Elementary School. After dropping her off, he was supposed to drop 23-month-old Lawson off at New Horizons, a daycare center off Nebraska Ave. and Belcher Road.
Gualtieri said it appears Whitaker thought he had made the drop-off, but instead went home, arriving at 8:30, where he began studying for a promotional test for the Hillsborough County Fire Department, where he works.
At 3:30, Whitaker told deputies he walked his dog. Afterward, he got into his truck to go to Publix on US 19. He put his groceries into the front passenger's seat. When he returned home, he saw Lawson in his car seat behind the driver's side seat. He began giving CPR to Lawson, but told deputies the boy was blue and not breathing.
A call was made to emergency personnel around 4:30. Lawson was pronounced dead at the hospital soon after. Gualtieri said the child's body temperature was 108°.
Whitaker was arrested and charged with aggravated manslaughter for causing the child's death.