Investigation Continues After Police Confirm Children Left In Car
Posted July 11, 2003 3:55 a.m. EDT
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Fayetteville police confirmed Thursday that a 2-year-old boy who died and two babies who are in critical condition wth breathing problems were left too long in a hot car Wednesday.
The children were in the care of their mother, 21-year-old Natasha Pratt, when emergency medical personnel were called to the house at 137 Bremer St. around 1 p.m. Wednesday. Pratt called 911 to say that her 2-year-old son, Kenneth, was not breathing.
Natasha Pratt's mother, LeeAnn Lewis, said she got a call at work that her three grandchildren were in trouble. Kenneth died at the hospital, while his 1-year-old brother, Jaquon, and 4-month-old sister, Nataliya, were in critical condition.
The police said Thursday they were making good progress in the investigation.
Neighbors said they thought the children were abused. The family said that is not true.
Lewis said she has only talked to her daughter briefly since the incident. But she is firm in her belief that her daughter did not intentionally harm the children.
"She loves her children," Lewis said, "and now she has to deal with the bad publicity of this.
"At least find out the whole story before you put a bad slant on something and make somebody who's already going through something bad worse."
Wednesday, police towed away a car from the front yard of the Pratt home. They confirmed Thursday that the children were left inside the car for a period of time on Wednesday.
Police also have confirmed that charges will be filed. They did not say whether the parents will be charged.
After receiving the 911 call Wednesday, paramedics found all three children in respiratory distress in the house and requested additional medical units and police to respond.
All three children were transported to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, where Nathan Pratt was pronounced dead.
Nataliya Pratt and Jaquon Pratt remained in critical condition Thursday.
As investigators waited for warrants to go inside the house Wednesday, forensic technicians took pictures inside the red car parked in the front yard. Natasha Pratt and her husband, Kenneth, were taken to police headquarters for questioning.
Neighbors said they have worried that the children were being neglected and that they have called to report their concerns to anyone who would listen.
WRAL has learned that police and rescue personnel have been called to the home 44 times since 1999. Along with medical issues, there have been problems with domestic violence and suspicious activity.
"It upsets me to know that they (police) tell us to keep an eye out on the neighborhood to protect the other children," Thelma Jones said. "My children are all grown, but I still look after little kids. And when you do this, and you raise the concerns, they pass it off. They pass it off. That bothers me and upsets me, because it is passed off, and it is something that shouldn't be.
"When a neighbor calls about a concern, they need to check it out."
Neighbors said that what they have been able to see inside Pratt's home was just filthy. They said they never saw the children playing with any toys, and one neighbor brought a slide over just so the kids would have something to play with.