TORONTO – A five-year-old boy was struck and killed by a vehicle in Alabama on Sunday. Authorities say the child was forced out of his car by his mother’s boyfriend on a busy highway as punishment for his misbehavior.
In a virtual press conference Monday, Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor said Bryan Starr, 35, had been arrested for reckless murder in connection with the incident.
According to a WTVM report, Taylor said Starr showed a “reckless disregard” for the boy’s safety.
Taylor said Starr was driving on an “extremely dangerous road” when he forced Austin Birdseye out of the car. Taylor added that it was a dark and rainy night which made visibility poor on Route 165.
Authorities say Starr told investigators Birdseye was “acting” and “unruly” in the vehicle, so he stopped at a church and ordered the boy to get out of his car around 8 p.m. local time.
According to Taylor, Starr said he lost sight of the boy shortly after exiting the vehicle.
Birdseye’s mother was not in the vehicle, authorities said.
“I can’t imagine the mother’s grief that she is going through,” Taylor said at the press conference. “It’s just hard. ”
Taylor said Starr was in a relationship with Birdseye’s mother, but was not the boy’s biological father. Starr is reportedly living with Birdseye’s mother, and the two have been together for several years.
Authorities say Starr told investigators he realized Birdseye was struck by another vehicle when he saw other cars stopped on the road.
Taylor said Birdseye rode on the freeway before being hit. Police say the driver of the other car is not at fault.
Authorities said Birdseye was taken to the Columbus Piedmont Regional Hospital where he later died of his injuries.
Taylor said Starr, who is an active duty soldier at Fort Benning and served in the US military for 17 years, surrendered.