Grandmother charged after two grandchildren die in her care less than a year apart
A 65-year-old woman has been charged with aggravated manslaughter after her seven-month-old granddaughter died in a hot car, just months after the child's elder brother drowned in the woman's care.
Uriel Schock died in the back seat of an SUV, which was parked in the yard with windows rolled up while grandmother Tracey Nix practiced piano inside in Florida's Wauchula city, CNN reported.
The incident took place on 22 November last year when the temperature outside reached 32C.
Ms Nix, a former school principal, told detectives that she had "just forgotten" about the child after she drove home from lunch with friends, according to the Hardee County Sheriff's Office complaint affidavit.
The grandmother was not aware of the situation till one of her grandsons arrived and “all of a sudden” it “came across her head” that Uriel had been in the SUV all afternoon. Her husband, Nun Ney Nix, immediately began CPR but failed to resuscitate the child.
“To think of the last moments of her life as a mother is gut-wrenching,” Uriel’s mother, Kaila Nix, said.
Drew Schock, Uriel’s father, said that the deaths of his children were devastating. “And that it actually just f***ing happened twice. In our lifetime,” Mr Schock told CNN.
Uriel died less than a year after her 16-month-old brother, Ezra, drowned in a nearby pond while he was at his grandmother Tracey’s home.
The grandmother had reportedly fallen asleep on the couch in the living room while her partner was running errands. When she woke up and could not find the child, she called her husband.
Ms Nix found Ezra lying face down about knee-deep in the large pond within feet of their home.
Mr Schock said he received a call from his partner's father three days before Christmas in 2021. “He goes, ‘Something happened to Ezra'."
He called the boy's mother who rushed to her parents’ home as fast as she could, driving 85 miles an hour.
“I could see the helicopter landing,” Ms Kaila Nix said. “I didn’t look. When there was a stop sign.”
She was six months pregnant at the time and suffered a head-on collision with another car.
“All of my airbags went off, I don’t remember how I got out, but I got out and started running to my parent’s house and at this point, I don’t have shoes. I’m just running,” she said. “That was my desperation to get to my son.”
The parents said after Ezra’s death, they “didn’t trust (Tracey) at all”. And would never let their 4-year-old firstborn child go to their grandparent’s home.
“We were anxious, but I loved my mother and I am a daughter that wanted her mom in her life in some capacity, and in that moment, I thought that I could believe in second chances,” Ms Kaila Nix said.
“When I was told that Ezra’s death was an accident, some sliver child part of me, thought, ‘Ok good, I get to keep this mom. This grandmother. This person.'”
William Fletcher, the attorney representing the grandmother, said it was "obviously an accident" and the "question was – is it culpable negligence?”
Mr Fletcher said that “Tracey loves her daughter and her son-in-law and all of her children and her grandchildren" and she was “totally devastated” by their deaths.
According to the lawyer, if found guilty, Ms Nix could face between 12-30 years in prison.
“If I’m objective – she needs to go to prison," Ms Kaila Nix said. "As her daughter, it kills me to say it. As their mother, I demand it. I will fight for them."