Police: Elderly woman dies after son leaves her in hot car while working
RENO, Nev. (KRNV/KRXI/CNN) — A man will most likely get probation and no jail time for leaving his elderly mother in a hot car for eight hours while he went to work. She later died.
Edward Sibley and his 81-year-old mother were homeless, living in area motels last summer. On July 14 2020, he went to work in Reno and left his mother in the car. He said he had nowhere else to leave her. A police report states he left her at 7:30 in the morning. He also gave her a burrito at lunch. Both times Sibley said she was "OK."
But the car was parked in the sun. It was about 96 degrees that day. Sibley said he couldn't find shade to park under.
Sibley said he left her the car keys so she could turn on the air conditioner. The woman was in a t-shirt and a diaper.
The police reports she had "no cell phone, was unable to walk, unable to drive... and unable to seek shade from the heat and sun."
Around 3:30 that afternoon, two employees saw the woman in the car and she was "drooling and unconscious." Police said she appeared to have suffered extreme heat stroke. Her core body temperature was 106 degrees. She later died at the hospital.
A Chihuahua was also in the car. An an animal control officer took it into custody and has been released back to Sibley.
Sibley was charged with first charged with elderly abuse for the death of his mother.
"Initially when it came in it was charged as a felony. After additional review, and a lot of the circumstances came to light, it was tragic but tragedy doesn’t always equate to felony charges," said Michelle Bays, the Washoe County District Attorney's spokeswoman.
On June 3 of this year, Sibley took a plea deal to a lesser charge — a gross misdemeanor.
"That hinged on poor choices, very difficult circumstances. There was homelessness involved, there were certainly attempts to care but the bad decision really hinged on the circumstances of that day," Bays said. "There wasn’t proof or evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt and there really wasn’t evidence at all to prove that he had any intent to cause harm."
A staff member from the D.A.'s office called News 4, who didn't want to be identified, and questioned Sibley facing a lesser charge. That DA employee also wondered why Sibley was only facing probation.
Bays said a misdemeanor charge with no jail time is an option because there was no intent to harm the woman. The son checked on her that day and the DA's office believe she was ambulatory in some regards.
Bays said when Sibley is sentenced in August, a judge could give him up to a year in jail but the D.A.'s office is recommending probation.
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