The father of two Aliquippa toddlers who died after a dresser fell on them heard the crash from another room but waited up to half an hour before checking on the girls, authorities said in court documents Thursday.
Beaver County District Attorney Anthony Berosh said David Beatty, 28, erred July 4 in leaving the room knowing Brooklyn, 2, and Ryeley, 3, were playing in the bottom drawer of a dresser and in not immediately reacting upon hearing a bang.
Asked whether the sisters might have lived had their father moved more quickly, Mr. Berosh said, “Absolutely.”
Aliquippa parents charged in daughters' deaths
Aliquippa parents charge in deaths of their two daughters. (Video by Nate Guidry; 7/24/2014)
“Let me be perfectly clear: This is a perfect example — to use a phrase in another context — children should not be left behind. And that's what happened in this case,” he said during a news conference announcing charges against Mr. Beatty and his wife, Jennifer, 28.
Mr. Beatty was charged with two felony counts of involuntary manslaughter. He and his wife are charged with two counts each of child endangerment, also felonies, that authorities said stemmed from the “extremely deplorable” state of the Irwin Street house.
They were released the same day on $25,000 unsecured bond each.
Dale M. Fouse, the Aliquippa attorney representing the couple, said they planned to plead not guilty to the charges.
“It’s a tragic accident, and they’re obviously still in mourning,” he said. “They’ve experienced an incredible amount of emotion in the last three weeks, really culminating in the knock at the door [Thursday] morning,” from law enforcement.
“We will be challenging the evidence as put forward in the affidavit of probable cause,” he said.
He added the home’s condition had “nothing to do with causing the deaths of these two children.”
The couple have three other children, ages 4, 5 and 8, who Mr. Fouse said are staying with relatives across the street from the Beatty home. Ms. Beatty and those children were not home at the time of the deadly incident.
Investigators said Mr. Beatty’s account of what occurred the morning of July 4 changed multiple times in the days following the tragedy.
He first told police he was drawing a bath for the girls when he heard a bang and ran immediately into the bedroom to find them pinned beneath the dresser, which he pushed up, away from them, Aliquippa police Detective Sgt. Steven Roberts and county police Detective Timmie Patrick wrote in a criminal complaint.
Mr. Beatty told police he had seen the sisters sitting on the edge of the dresser drawer at some point while he was preparing the bath.
Later that afternoon, the complaint continues, Mr. Beatty told police he was actually using the bathroom when he heard the crash.
He said he called out to the girls, got no response, and went to check on them within a minute or two, the complaint says.
At some point, Mr. Beatty told Detective Patrick he’d been on the toilet when he heard the noise and waited 10 or 15 minutes before getting up, the complaint says.
“He stated that he did not think much about the noise because the kids are always jumping off of beds and making loud noises,” the detectives wrote.
In yet another interview, the complaint continues, Mr. Beatty told police he stayed on the toilet up to half an hour before going to check on the girls.
The district attorney said the girls each weighed about 31 pounds and the dresser, with drawers, weighed 124 pounds.
Police said the Beatty home was in a “significant state of filth” when they arrived.
Detectives wrote they saw soiled and used diapers on the floor of multiple rooms, human feces on floors, walls and several beds, dishes and pots piling up in the kitchen, and hanging fly strips, filled with the dead insects. The gas had been shut off for several weeks.
Brooklyn was pronounced dead at Heritage Valley Medical Center July 4, and Ryeley died two days later at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, both of asphyxiation.
A forensic pathologist for the Beaver County coroner’s office said both children “would have survived this incident without significant injury” had Mr. Beatty reacted immediately, police wrote in the complaint.
Molly Born: email@example.com or 412-263-1944. First Published July 24, 2014 12:00 AM