[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

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 October 13, 2015 17:10 GMT


BRUSSELS (AP) -- Belgian-Brazilian AB InBev have announced an agreement in principle with SABMiller to take over the brewer at about $68 a share to create the world's biggest beer giant.

The brewer of Budweiser and Stella Artois said Tuesday it had increased its offer overnight for the world's second-largest brewer and that both boards "reached agreement in principle on the key terms of a possible recommended offer."

AB InBev has been trying for nearly a month to get its hands on SABMiller but its previous offers have met with resistance. On Monday, it was hoping that its latest offer, which valued SABMiller at 43.50 pounds a share -- 14 percent higher than its initial offer -- would finally win the day but it still upped its offer.


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Twitter is laying off 336 employees, signaling CEO Jack Dorsey's resolve to slash costs while the company struggles to make money.

The cutbacks announced translate into about 8 percent of Twitter's workforce of 4,100 people.

The purge comes two weeks after Twitter brought back one of its co-founders as permanent CEO in hopes that Dorsey would be able to resolve problems that have slowed the messaging service's user growth and compounded an uninterrupted cycle of financial losses.

Cutting costs can boost profits, but at Twitter, it has also raised uncertainty about the future and the company's desire for aggressive growth and the larger audience it has sought for so long.


Johnson & Johnson board approves $10 billion buyback plan

NEW YORK (AP) -- Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday that its board of directors approved a $10 billion stock buyback plan.

The health care and pharmaceutical products company said there is no time limit on the program and it will be financed through the issuance of debt.

The New Brunswick, New Jersey-based company had about 2.77 billion shares of common stock outstanding as of September 27.

"The board of directors and management team believe that the company's shares are an attractive investment opportunity and repurchasing stock is an important part of our capital allocation strategy," said Chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky, in a statement.

Its shares rose 13 cents to $96.12 in morning trading Tuesday as the company also reported mixed earnings results. Its shares are down about 8 percent so far this year.


FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- Volkswagen's flagship brand will switch to new diesel emissions technology in Europe and North America as well as cut a billion euros ($1.1 billion) in annual investment spending.

VW brand head Herbert Diess made the announcement Tuesday as the company struggles to overcome a scandal over cars equipped with computer software that let them evade U.S. emissions tests.

Diess said the company would change its diesel technology in Europe and North America and install technology that uses a urea solution called AdBlue to reduce diesel emissions. He said that change would come "as soon as possible."

He also said the company would extend its low-cost manufacturing techniques and reduce spending on investments.


WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) -- Volkswagen-backed Bundesliga club Wolfsburg has postponed the construction of a youth training center because of the German car manufacturer's emissions-rigging scandal.

Wolfsburg chief executive Klaus Allofs tells news agency dpa that "I think it's understandable that we at least suspend it for now," referring to the planned 40-million euro ($45.5 million) project.

Allofs adds "we were not at the stage that you could say the project would be implemented. But of course this is not the time for investment."

Wolfsburg is heavily reliant on main sponsor Volkswagen for backing but the car giant is in crisis after U.S. authorities said it evaded emissions checks on 482,000 vehicles. The company put aside 6.5 billion euros ($7.3 billion) for recall costs and fines though the real cost is likely to be significantly higher.


NEW YORK (AP) -- Apple is adding Retina displays to its iMacs, which will enhance the text and the image quality of photos and videos.

The Cupertino, California-based company said its 21.5-inch iMac will have a Retina 4K display, while every 27-inch iMac will have a Retina 5K display. The 21-inch iMac and 27-inch iMac are available in three models and come standard with a new Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2.

The technology giant redesigned Magic devices including the Magic keyboard, Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad 2. Those products have rechargeable batteries.

Apple said the iMacs will also have new storage options and more powerful processors and graphics.

Apple Inc.'s stock shed 61 cents to $110.99 in Tuesday premarket trading.


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways, one of the Arab Gulf region's largest carriers, has signed a $700 million deal with IBM to develop its security, mobile and analytics technology.

The 10-year service agreement that was signed last month and announced on Tuesday will provide Etihad with a range of IBM services, including a plan for a new cloud data center in Abu Dhabi. Disaster recovery will be managed at an IBM cloud data center in Europe.

The two companies also announced they are creating a joint technology and innovation council in the United Arab Emirates' government hub of Abu Dhabi.

Etihad carried 14.8 million passengers in 2014 and serves 113 passenger and cargo destinations worldwide. Its partner airlines include Alitalia, airberlin, Jet Airways, Air Serbia and Air Seychelles.


BOSTON (AP) -- The owners of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth have announced that they will close the plant by June 2019.

Entergy Corp. said Tuesday it is closing the only nuclear power plant in Massachusetts because of "poor market conditions, reduced revenues and increased operational costs."

The decision comes about a month after federal inspectors said they would increase oversight of the plant in the wake of a shutdown during a winter storm. The plant needs millions of dollars in safety improvements.

The plant was relicensed in 2012 for 20 years.

The timing of the shutdown depends on several factors, including further discussion with ISO-New England, the operators of the regions's power grid.

Entergy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Leo Denault said the decision to close Pilgrim was "incredibly difficult."