Mother receives probation after son dies while left in minivan

Mother receives probation after son dies while left in minivan (Image 1)

A mother charged and convicted in the death of her infant child will not serve jail time.

Stephanie Gray was in court in May. She accepted a plea deal and was sentenced to probation and community service.

The 40-year-old mother of four was charged with misdemeanor child neglect and reckless endangerment after she left her five-month-old son, Joel, in her minivan for several hours last summer.

In an audio recording of the emergency call to 911 dispatch, recently released by Metro Nashville Police Department, Gray can be heard in the background, tearful and anxious.

Dispatcher: How old is the child?

Caller: How old is the baby?

Gray: He's five months.

Caller: Five months.

The woman on the line, a daycare worker at Donelson Heights United Methodist Church, made the call seconds after Joel was found.

“She come (sic) to pick up her child, and I informed her that I did not have her child. And she realized that she had left it in the car,” she said to the dispatcher.

Gray told police she made several stops on the morning of August 7, 2012, to drop off her three other children. She was certain she dropped off Joel, too, at the daycare.

When Gray was told Joel was not at the daycare facility that afternoon, she rushed out to the parking lot to find him strapped in his car seat in the backseat of her minivan.

After several hours in the enclosed vehicle, with temperatures near 93 degrees, daycare workers immediately started CPR, but Joel did not respond.

Dispatcher: Is he awake?

Caller: No, ma'am.

Dispatcher: Is he breathing?

Caller: He's not breathing.

Joel was pronounced dead a short time later by medical personnel.

Officers on the scene that day said Gray was “distraught.” She was taken to the hospital as a precaution.

Following her guilty plea last month, Gray was sentenced to 11 months and 29 days of supervised probation for each charge and 200 hours of community service. If she completes the conditions of her plea, the charges against her can be dismissed.

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