Boy, 5, struck and killed in Alabama after mother's boyfriend kicked him out of car
TORONTO -- A five-year-old boy was hit and killed by a vehicle in Alabama on Sunday. Authorities allege that the child had been forced by his mother's boyfriend to exit his car on a busy highway as punishment for misbehaving.
In a virtual press conference on Monday, Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor said 35-year-old Bryan Starr has been arrested on a reckless murder charge in connection with the incident.
According to a report from WTVM, Taylor said Starr showed a "reckless disregard" for the boy’s safety.
Taylor said Starr was driving on an "exceptionally dangerous road" when he forced Austin Birdseye out of the car. Taylor added that it was a dark and rainy night, making visibility poor on Highway 165.
Authorities say Starr told investigators that Birdseye was "acting up" and being "unruly" in the vehicle, so he pulled over at a church and ordered the boy out of his car at around 8 p.m. local time.
According to Taylor, Starr said he lost sight of the boy shortly after he exited the vehicle.
Birdseye's mother was not in the vehicle, authorities say.
"I can't imagine the mother’s grief that she’s going through," Taylor said during the press conference. "It's just tough."
Taylor said Starr was in a relationship with Birdseye’s mother, but is not the boy’s biological father. Starr reportedly lives with Birdseye’s mother, and the two have been together for several years.
Authorities allege that Starr told investigators he realized Birdseye had been hit by another vehicle when he saw other cars stopped on the road.
Taylor said Birdseye wandered onto the highway before he was struck. Police say the driver of the other car is not at fault.
According to authorities, Birdseye was taken to Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital where he later died from his injuries.
Taylor said that Starr, who is an active duty soldier at Fort Benning and has served in the U.S. military for 17 years, turned himself in.