MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

November 21, 2012

Police investigate child’s death

Father arrested after toddler found unresponsive in car

By Dylan Goforth
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Tahlequah police are investigating the death of a toddler after she was found unresponsive in a park and later died.

Tahlequah Police Department spokesman Brad Robertson said the 18-month-old girl was left in a running vehicle Monday outside of Norris Park.

The girl’s father, Cody Butler, 19, was arrested and booked into the Cherokee County Detention Center on complaints of:

• Child neglect or endangerment; and

• Second-degree manslaughter.

Butler was released from jail Tuesday on $10,000 bond.

“Butler was parked in a parking spot in the park visiting, and the child was in the back seat of the car in a child seat,” Robertson said. “The child was bundled up.”

Butler noticed the child’s cheeks had turned purple, Robertson said, and removed the child from the vehicle. Det. Jeff Haney’s initial investigation showed the child had an “extremely high core temperature,” according to a release from the Tahlequah Police Department.

“CPR was started by a female who was there talking to Butler,” Robertson said. “

Police are trying to determine how long the 18-month old was left in the vehicle before anyone noticed her symptoms, Robertson said.

“We are trying to determine how long it would have taken for this to have occurred,” Robertson said.

Robertson said the toddler’s body is with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and their report on the cause of death would be needed before the district attorney makes a decision regarding formal charges.

Tahlequah Police Chief Clay Mahaney said the death of a young child is extremely difficult to everyone involved.

“This type of tragedy is one of the hardest calls we respond to as law enforcement officers,” Mahaney said. “We feel for the family and strongly remind everyone to never leave a young child unattended for any amount of time.”

Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or dgoforth@muskogeephoenix.com.