Local News

Fayetteville Police Say Charges Imminent In 2-Year-Old's Death

Posted July 11, 2003

— Thursday brought new details in the death of a 2-year-old boy left in a hot car Wednesday. His younger brother and sister were still alive -- but barely -- and charges were pending.

Meanwhile, WRAL learned more about why police and ambulances were called to their home dozens of times.

Fayetteville police confirmed Thursday that charges will be filed in the child's death.

Detectives questioned the children's parents about Wednesday's incident but did not say who will be charged.

According to investigators, 2-year-old Kenneth Pratt, died after being left in his parents' hot car with his younger brother, Jaquon, and infant sister, Nataliya.

The children's mother, 21-year-old Natasha Pratt, called 911 Wednesday afternoon, telling authorities "my baby's not breathing."

When paramedics arrived at the residence, all three children were in the house in great respiratory distress. The car was parked in the front yard.

Police said Thursday they were waiting on Kenneth's autopsy results, which may help them figure out how long all the children were left alone.

Detective Ron Campbell of the Fayetteville Police Department said charges were imminent, considering "the nature of what went on out there and some things going on in the residence that I don't want to comment on."

Family members say Natasha Pratt did not neglect her children.

"She's not perfect," said her mother, LeeAnn Lewis. "Nobody's perfect. But she loves her kids and is doing the best she can.

"There's no perfect manual on how to be a parent. You learn as you go."

According to city records, police or an ambulance responded to the house on Bremer Street 44 times since 1999. The Pratts have lived there since 2000.

Many of the calls were for an ambulance. Lewis said that's because several family members have asthma.

Of the 16 times police came, most were for non-emergencies. But three were for domestic fights.

"It's never been problems with the child, such as neglect," said Jacqueline Edwards, the children's aunt. "I want to set that straight. My sister would never do anything intentionally.

"She had her ups and downs, but never toward the kids."

Research shows that a hot car can kill a child in minutes. At least eight children have died this year in the U.S. after being left in a sweltering car. Ten others were rescued.

One case even dates back to February, proving it doesn't take 90-degree heat to cause problems.

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