August 10, 1998 - July 13, 1999
William and Michelle Puckett (Winchester, KY)
This is our story…
On August 10, 1998 we got an early surprise. Our son, (1st and only child) Bryan Edward was born. He was almost 2 months early and we were scared to death. Bryan stayed at the hospital that he was delivered at for about 4 hours before they took him to the University of Kentucky Neonatal ICU where he stayed only 1 week and he got to come home healthy. For the next few months we got the hang of being new parents. My wife Michelle was off work for 12 weeks after the birth and bonded with her baby. I stayed home for about 2 weeks then went back to work. I am a full time firefighter-EMT and I work 24-hour shifts so I am gone 1 day and home for 2 days. (<18 hours) Michelle worked nights at the Lexington Herald Leader newspaper in Lexington, KY. This worked out well when my wife went back to work because I would watch Bryan on my days off and his God Mother would watch him the nights both of us worked.
Around 4 to 5 months after Bryan was born we found out he had severe asthma and we had to watch him very closely every time he got sick. February 14, 1999 he got sick and we had to spend 1 week at the hospital in an oxygen tent. Bryan had very hard time breathing and had a high temperature. Shortly after that Michelle decided she was tired of working nights and not getting to spend time with Bryan so she went to day shift and that put on the hunt for childcare. That finely brought us to the door of Karen Murphy.
Karen was a RN and a mother of a 2. A girl names Rachael (3 years-old) and a son Jason. (1 year-old) We met with her several times before taking Bryan to meet her. Bryan and her son started playing and we talked to Karen and decided she was the right person to take care of our pride and joy.
The first day Michelle dropped him off and I picked him up early. When I got there she was carrying him and he was very happy. She have me a report of the days activities and we talked for a few minutes of things she would need. For the next few months this was about the way it went. When I was off I would pick him up early most of the time. I would never let him know I was coming. I would just show up knocking at the door. Every time every thing was the same. Bryan was happy and Karen would give a report of Bryan's day.
July 13th, 1999 started just liked every other day. Michelle took Bryan to Karen's at 7:30am and at around 8:45am she called Michelle and said Bryan had a temperature. She wanted to give him Tylenol because he was teething. Michelle said ok and they talked for 10 to 15 minutes. Around noon I went to the paper to have lunch with Michelle and she decided to go to the tanning bed with her friend Suzie. So I was to pick Bryan up around 4:30pm. I was working that day at my 2nd job. Around 4:30pm I was sitting at Karen's house to pick up Bryan. Around 4:45pm or 5pm Karen's husband showed up and invited me in. This did not concern me because Michelle did not pick Bryan up until around 5:50pm so Karen could be gone to the store.
Around 5:25pm Michelle called Karen's house wanting to know what time I picked up Bryan. George (Karen's husband) said William is here waiting on Bryan to get back. Karen was not home yet and Michelle asked to speak to me. She was still at the newspaper and was going to be later getting home than she had planned. She started telling me about what was going on at a local mall. Someone had locked 2 children in a car. Right off she asked, "You don't think that was Bryan?" I said "no way", Bryan is with Karen and he is fine.
I sat with George for about 10 to 15 minutes. Then I started getting worried where is my son; where is Karen? So I went outside to call Michelle's cell phone when I did someone answered her phone and said he was with two police officers and that I should go to the hospital and that my wife was on her way there.
I asked what was going on and no one would tell me what was going on; just that I needed to get to the hospital. I went back in to tell George something had happened and right at the same time the phone rang. It was Michelle. She was screaming and crying saying it was our baby locked in the car and that she was on the way to the hospital with a police officer and for me to meet them there.
I ran out of the Murphy's house and got to the hospital as fast as I could. When I go there they took me to Michelle and about 10 minutes later the doctor came in and told us this was the hardest thing that he ever had to do. He told us that our son was dead! He was only 11 months old.
Our son is dead today because his babysitter left him in her car for almost 2 hours while she shopped. It was 82 degrees that day. She said that he was sleeping and she did not want to bother him. She was just going to be a few minutes. Just a few minutes turned into almost 120 minutes before she went back to her car. There are allot of other things that happened that I cannot talk about because of the trial is still pending for August 2000.
Karen claims she had a mental seizure that made her forget or loose track of time. This would not of made a difference is she would have taken my child in with her. Karen also left her own child, Jason in the car right beside my son. Jason lived and we don't know how he is doing today. She knew she left them and that is all that matters to my wife and me.
After all of this we are fighting for Bryans Law in Kentucky. It will say that if a person dies from being left in a situation that causes death you will be charged with 2nd degree manslaughter, whether if be a child or an elderly person.
In closing this I would like to say that we now have twin boys and we are very excited. We would like people to realize that leaving our children in car is deadly. It is something that we never did and something we will never do. We will continue to educate people and keep public awareness up on this issue.