Father charged after death of toddler left in car, police say

Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 11:26 PM CST
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ATMORE, Ala. (WALA/Gray News) - A 2-year-old Alabama boy is dead after police say his father left him inside his truck for several hours instead of dropping him off at daycare.

Shawn Rounsavall is charged with reckless murder in relation to the death of his 2-year-old son. Atmore Police told WALA the father apparently forgot to drop the child off at daycare Monday, and it wasn’t until he went to pick the boy up that he was found, still in the back seat.

“This is a terrible, terrible tragedy. This community is shocked,” said Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks.

Brooks said his officers responded to the Atmore Community Hospital Monday evening, where medical staff had officially pronounced the 2-year-old boy dead. His father was arrested and charged with causing that death.

By all accounts, Brooks said it was unintentional. But because of the negligence shown by Rounsavall, which he said led to the toddler’s death, the father now faces a very serious charge of reckless murder.

“Because of the reckless … or the disregard for the child, you know, a criminal charge, he was arrested for that particular incident,” Brooks said.

Brooks said the entire family is devastated by the incident.

Investigators said Rounsavall went to the daycare at First Baptist Church around 4:30 p.m. to pick up the 2-year-old. When he was told by the staff that the boy hadn’t been dropped off that morning, Rounsavall and some of the daycare staff found the boy in the back of his vehicle, police said.

According to investigators, Rounsavall had spent the day working at his restaurant downtown while the child was left, apparently forgotten.

It’s been a very difficult time for many in the Atmore community. A rose was brought in for each daycare worker who knew the boy. A message of prayer was left posted on the front door of the Rounsavalls’ restaurant, encouraging folks not to judge.

Across the street from the diner and ice cream shop, a fellow business owner said his heart goes out to the family.

“We have to have hearts of compassion and reach out and do our best to support the family, pray for the family,” said Terry Kelly, owner of Terry’s Furniture and Music. “Be with the family and help the family through this tragedy.”

Brooks said it’s been tough on his officers as well.

“As a law enforcement officer, we have to put our personal opinions to the side. Like I said, this has been a hard, hard case to work. My officers have been affected by it, and we will deal with that and get them the help that they need to get past this,” Brooks said.

Atmore Police continue to investigate. Until an autopsy is finished, there won’t be an official cause of death.

Rounsavall had a bond hearing Tuesday. That bond was set at $500,000.