ALIQUIPPA, Pa. (AP) — The father of two toddlers who died after a dresser fell on them is facing involuntary manslaughter charges because he heard a crash and didn’t immediately check on his daughters, a prosecutor said Thursday.
David Beatty, 28, of Aliquippa, is charged in the deaths of 2-year-old Brooklyn and 3-year-old Ryeley. Brooklyn died shortly after the dresser fell on her July 4, and Ryeley died two days later in a Pittsburgh hospital.
Beaver County District Attorney Anthony Berosh said Beatty was home alone with the girls and acknowledged he didn’t check on them for 10 to 15 minutes after hearing the crash. The dresser weighed 124 pounds; the girls weighed about 30 pounds each.
Autopsies determined that the weight of the dresser prevented the girls from breathing.
“If the children’s caregiver, namely David Beatty, the defendant, would have reacted immediately to the sound of the bang, both children would have survived this incident without significant injury,” a forensic pathologist told police, according to a criminal complaint.
Beatty and his wife, Jennifer, 28, face two counts each of endangering the welfare of children because of the “deplorable” condition of their home, which included dirty bedclothes and diapers and human and animal waste on the floors, walls and beds, authorities said.
The couple’s attorney, Dale Fouse, said the condition of the house had nothing to do with the children’s deaths.
When asked to address the prosecutor’s allegation that David Beatty didn’t respond soon enough, Fouse said, “The sound was described as a bang. As you may or may not know, children make sounds inside of a house.”
“We can’t possibly foresee all of these circumstances,” Fouse said, adding, “This looks to be just a tragic accident and it doesn’t rise to the level of criminal culpability.”
Authorities say Beatty gave police various accounts of what happened, first telling them that he responded to the crash within “seconds” and that he had left the girls alone to play in the room only while he drew them a bath. Later, Beatty acknowledged he had been using the toilet and had waited 10 to 15 minutes to respond.
“He stated that he did not think much about the noise because the kids are always jumping off of beds and making noises,” police wrote in the complaint.
The Beattys were released on unsecured bond and will face a preliminary hearing July 31.