Medical Examiner Says 10-Month-Old Likely Died Within Short Time In Hot Car On Tunnel Boulevard; 2 Older Siblings Survived OK

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Travis McCullough with attorney Diane Phillips
Travis McCullough with attorney Diane Phillips

A 10-month-old child left in a hot SUV all day outside a Tunnel Boulevard chicken restaurant probably died within a relatively short time, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Steven Cogswell testified Tuesday.

Kiara McCullough was left with her older brother, 5, and sister, 2, while father Travis McCullough worked in his father's Buffalo Shack to earn gas money last July 8.

General Sessions Court Judge Clarence Shattuck bound a charge of criminal homicide and three counts of aggravated child abuse and child neglect to the Grand Jury.

Dr. Cogswell said the much-younger child would have been much more susceptible to the heat. The children were in the car from 10:30 a.m. until around 6 p.m.

He said the child's temperature was above 106 degrees and possibly as high as 108 degrees when the father finally pulled her out of the vehicle.

Mitch Weaver testified that McCullough pulled up at his house that night and asked him to watch the two older children. He said they were hot and sweaty and he gave them several glasses of water each. However, he said they began playing in the yard and appeared fine.

After a short while, he took them to their grandmother's house nearby.

Daniel Evans, father of McCullough and grandfather of the children, said his son showed up that morning wanting to borrow money. He said he had been up til 1:30 the previous night and told him he would have to work for it. 

He then left and turned the operation over to his son.

The witness said he had no knowledge that the three children were in McCullough's large red SUV outside the restaurant. It has tinted windows.

He said when he returned that evening there were so many police officers milling around "that I couldn't get back in the lot."

He said, "I never saw the children."

Brandi Scott said she drove by the Buffalo Shack while on her way to pick up her children from her job at Orange Grove. She said on the way back she spotted McCullough holding a child over his shoulder. She said she knows McCullough through a cousin.

She said something did not look right so she put on the brakes and stopped. The witness said McCullough was screaming for help, then he tossed the child to her, jumped in the SUV and drove across the street to a gas station.

Ms. Scott said, "She was hot. She was not breathing, and her eyes were in the back of her head." She called 911 and was told to try to revive the child. She said, "I knew it was already too late."

She said she stood there 10-15 minutes "with a dead baby in my arms" before a paramedic arrived.

At one point, a bystander "tried to get me to calm down," she said.

An investigator said McCullough went across the street to a gas station and got gas, then dropped off the two older kids, picked up his wife at Walmart, then returned to the scene.

She said he was placed in a patrol car by himself. He was recorded "screaming and ranting." She said he stated that "nobody would help me" and "I'm going to make them pay."

He said he had not kept the car running with the AC on because the vehicle was about out of gas.


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