A father was charged with manslaughter Friday in the deaths of his 15-month-old twin girls, who were left in a hot car in their west Georgia town, police said.
Witnesses heard screams and saw Asa North running from the parking lot in front of his home, carrying the toddlers to an inflatable kiddie pool out back. He and his neighbors tried to revive them with water and ice packs, but they were too far gone.
Outside temperatures were in the 90s shortly before police were called at about 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
North, 24, is charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of reckless conduct, Carroll County jail records show.
“I think possibly alcohol was a factor in some of his decisions that day, and maybe played a factor in this,” said Carrollton police Capt. Chris Dobbs, who identified the girls as Ariel North and Alaynah North.
A man with North had been drinking heavily, and “we believe the father had been drinking that day also,” Dobbs said. Police tested North’s blood-alcohol level and were awaiting results from a lab, he said.
The girl’s mother was at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta at the time, visiting her sister, who had been in a serious car crash Wednesday, Dobbs said.
“I guess he forgot about about the kids and left them in the car,” said Donnie Holland, the twins’ uncle. “He should have took care of them kids better than that, what he did. He should have never been in the house asleep. He should have got the kids out of the car the time he got out of the car, you know.”
It wasn’t immediately clear who discovered that the twins were unresponsive in their child seats in the back of the SUV.
“The neighbors heard some screaming — I guess coming from the father — and saw him running around back with the two children,” Dobbs said.
Arriving officers performed CPR after finding people trying to cool the girls off in the baby pool.
“One of the neighbors got some ice packs out of the freezer and carried it out there,” Dobbs said.
The twins were pronounced dead at a hospital. Autopsies were being done at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab, GBI spokesman Scott Dutton said Friday morning.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether North has an attorney who could be contacted for comment.
The girls are the 25th and 26th children to die this year in hot vehicles, more than double the number by this point last summer, said Janette Fennell, president and founder of KidsAndCars.org, a group that tracks such deaths each year. By this date in 2015, 12 children had died in hot cars, Fennell said in an email Thursday night.
Temperatures inside a car can reach a deadly 125 degrees very quickly, with 80 percent of the increase happening in the first 10 minutes, her group warns on its website.
Neighbors said it’s normally quiet in twins’ six-unit brick building, on a dead-end street in a modest middle-class area 45 miles west of Atlanta. On Friday morning, however, police tape was still up, with satellite TV trucks parked out front.
The twins died as prosecutors in another metro Atlanta county prepare for the murder trial of Justin Ross Harris, 35, who is accused of intentionally leaving his toddler son to die in a hot SUV for about seven hours in 2014.
Harris’ trial was moved to the coastal Georgia city of Brunswick after a judge agreed with defense lawyers that an impartial jury could not be found in the Atlanta area. The trial is expected to begin in September.