[an error occurred while processing this directive]

I-Team: Left Alone

Updated: Saturday, August 3, 2013 |
I-Team: Left Alone story image
(NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Later this month, the woman whose three young children died in the Interfaith Apartment fire in Kalamazoo in February will be in civil court.

She'll be asking to regain custody of her surviving 4-year-old, who managed to escape the flames when those four kids were left home alone.

In the meantime, the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor's Office is reviewing the fire to see if criminal charges will be filed.

Now, one state lawmaker is launching a new campaign to make sure this kind of unbearable tragedy doesn't happen here again.

Sally Reames is the executive director of the Community Healing Centers, where they work with abused and neglected children and their families.

She says that kids under the age of 10 should never be left home alone, but too often, they are.

"Children younger than that don't necessarily have the resources to get help or ask for help when they need it," she explained. "So at Community Healing Centers, we would say, it's not a good choice to leave kids home alone."

Because, Of course, there are so many dangers lurking.

In mid-February, a Kalamazoo apartment caught on fire at Interfaith Homes, with four young kids inside.

An infant, twin 3-year-olds, and a 4-year old. Only the 4-year-old survived.

Their mother, who was not home at the time--and a friend with whom she claims she left the children--are both under investigation.

One thing is for sure though. No one involved in the Interfaith fire will be specifically charged with leaving the kids home alone and unattended.

That's because leaving kids home alone and unattended is not a crime in Michigan, no matter how young they are.

"There isn't a specific law that says if you leave your child unattended it is a crime punishable by a certain period of time," explained Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting. "The child's age isn't a factor. It could be a baby."

Getting says that every child left home alone case is different, and the totality of the circumstances must be carefully analyzed.

Neglect--or more serious abuse charges--could be filed, but only when police come armed with a lot of evidence.

For it to be a crime, there would have to be a clear and present danger--or proof the parent intended to abandon or harm the child.

As of now, simply leaving them at home doesn't qualify.

Enter State Representative Sean McCann, a Kalamazoo Democrat, who says he is working on a plan that could change that.

"I'm drafting legislation that would create penalties when children are left unattended for an unreasonable amount of time," Rep. McCann said.

Inspired by a 2009 law making it illegal to leave kids younger than 6 alone in cars, Rep. McCann is sponsoring new legislation to make it illegal to leave young children home as well.

"Often times the legislature is prone to closing the barn doors after the horses get out," Rep. McCann said. "So something bad happens and we realize there's not legislation on the books."

Until such a law can be passed, though, the Community Healing Centers is reaching out to parents, making cold calls and house calls.

They bring gift bags and diapers and offer moms and dads free parenting support in their own homes. For now, that's all we can do.

"We believe it's important that we go to where they are and teach parent and to the child in their setting," Reames said.

Newschannel 3 has been told that the bill in question is currently being fast tracked. We'll keep an eye on things and let you know how it turns out.
comments powered by Disqus
advertisement

What do you want to see?

If you have a story idea for the I-Team, you can contact us using the form below or by calling 269-388-4612.
Please re-enter the code shown in the image below.

Business News

Last Update on September 03, 2015 07:35 GMT

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Labor Department will report today on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week. Also, the Commerce Department will report on the U.S. trade gap for July.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, will also issue its index of non-manufacturing activity for August. And Freddie Mac will release weekly mortgage rates.

IMF-WORLD ECONOMY

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The International Monetary Fund says China's slowdown, volatile financial markets and tumbling raw-materials prices have raised the risks to economic growth around the world.

In an assessment of global threats published as finance ministers and central bankers meet this week in Turkey, the IMF is urging wealthy countries to continue easy money policies and "growth friendly" tax and spending programs.

It says some emerging-market countries should let their currencies fall substantially to support exporters and economic growth, adding that they should also enact reforms to make their economies more efficient.

The IMF says the Chinese economic slowdown appears to have had larger-than-expected repercussions in other countries. China's troubles have sent the prices of raw materials such as oil and copper into a freefall, pinching Brazil, Russia and other commodity exporters.

OIL TRAINS-CITIES

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- An Associated Press survey of nearly a dozen big cities reveals emergency planning for crude oil trains remains a work in progress.

The 100-car trains are loaded with crude oil from the Upper Midwest and rumble past schools, homes and businesses.

Cities around the country are scrambling to formulate emergency plans and train firefighters amid the latest safety threat: a fiftyfold increase in crude shipments that critics say has put millions of people living or working near the tracks at heightened risk of derailment, fire and explosion.

The mile-long trains from North Dakota carry around 3 million gallons of crude. Federal officials say a severe accident in a city could kill more than 200 people and cause $6 billion in damage.

The trains have become a common sight in places like Philadelphia, Chicago and Seattle.

TESLA-CHEAPER CAR

DETROIT (AP) -- Tesla Motors says it will unveil its lower-cost Model 3 electric car in March and will start taking orders then.

In a tweet Wednesday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk says the car will start at $35,000, or about half the starting price of its current Model S sedan. Musk said the Model 3 will start production in about two years.

Musk also said deliveries of the Model X SUV -- the company's third vehicle -- will begin Sept. 29. Tesla wouldn't reveal pricing details.

Musk said each trim level of the Model X will be around $5,000 more than the equivalent trim level of the Model S because of the SUV's greater size and complexity.

SONY-HACK-EMPLOYEE LAWSUIT

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Lawyers for former Sony Pictures Entertainment employees whose data was breached last year say they have tentatively reached a settlement with the company.

Wednesday's filing in a proposed class-action lawsuit does not detail settlement terms or how many current and former Sony employees would be covered by the settlement.

Plaintiffs' attorney Daniel Girard wrote that he and fellow lawyers believe the settlement is favorable to employees whose personal, financial and medical information was posted online.

Additional details about the settlement are expected to be filed in a Los Angeles federal court by mid-October.

At least 10 former Sony employees sued the company over the breach, seeking class-action status for the nearly 50,000 people whose data was stolen and posted online by hackers.

Sony declined comment on the proposed settlement.

advertisement