A man has been arrested after his attempt to discipline his fiancé’s son took a turn for the worst.
The soldier in the US state of Alabama was charged with reckless murder after he allegedly forced his girlfriend’s five-year-old son to get out of a car at night along a road.
The young child died when he was struck by a vehicle.
Army Sgt Bryan Starr, 35, went on to surrender himself to Russell County sheriffs after he was charged with 5-year-old Austin Birdseye’s death.
Starr admitted to investigators that the boy began acting up in the car as they travelled on a highway near their home Sunday night.
He went on to punish the boy by pulling his vehicle over into a church parking lot and making the boy stand outside in the rain.
The child’s mother was not in the vehicle, he added.
Starr lost sight of Austin but knew something was wrong when cars stopped in the middle of the road, as there the little boy had been struck by an oncoming Toyota Avalon.
Sheriff Heath Taylor said the road was dark and the driver who struck him is not at fault, in a press conference on Monday.
“We have their information and we’ve spoken to them and will speak to them again. But at this point, there’s no indication that they had any chance of not hitting the little guy,” Taylor said, as reported by the Ledger-Enquirer.
The child died in hospital and Starr was charged with murder because he showed reckless disregard for the child’s safety, police said.
An online campaign that was created to raise funds for Austin’s death said the little boy often sang loud “at the top of his lungs” to songs but the sheriff says he still could not understand his would-have been stepfathers’ actions.
“What do you say to that? What is your thought process when you tell a five-year-old to get out of the car on a rainy night, because they were being loud in the car?” he said.
“It’s just heartbreaking.”
The GoFundMe set up to support the family has far eclipsed its $5,000 target.
“Austin was always the centre of any impromptu living room dance party, the wonderful little boy who would chat about almost anything and with anyone in the grocery store, was the one who knew all the words to every song,” the page says.
“He was always loving and never let any opportunity pass him by to enjoy fun. We are absolutely devastated by Austin’s passing.”
This article originally appeared on Over60.