Father of toddler left in car for 10 hours pleads not guilty

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- The Schofield man accused of leaving his 2-year-old son in a car for 10 hours on July 28 has pleaded not guilty.

Zachary Wakeen told police he forgot the boy was still in his car seat. He's charged with child neglect, possession of meth and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Wakeen he picked up the boy at 2 a.m. July 28 and drove home. Wakeen said he made two trips to unload items from the vehicle, and then sat down on the couch and fell asleep.

Court documents state Wakeen woke up and wondered where the child was. He said that’s when he realized the boy was strapped in his car seat in the car in the driveway, and had been there for 10 hours.

Wakeen and the boy’s mother went to the car and found the toddler awake and sweaty. They brought him inside and attempted to cool him down with water and items from the fridge. That’s when they called 911 and began CPR.

The first responding officer was directed to a mother holding a young child in her arms. The responding officer said the child was breathing and his eyes were open, but he was dazed and not crying. Police said the car was in direct sunlight.

When officers arrived they said temperature in the car at 12:43 p.m. was 135 degrees. The outside air temperature at the time was 82 degrees.

The child was transported to St. Clare’s Hospital by ambulance and later flown to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield. He was initially reported to be in critical condition. Everest Metro Police Chief Clay Schulz said the child was treated for extreme exhaustion. He has since been released from the hospital.

A search warrant was executed at the home on July 31. Police say in a bedroom they found meth and drug paraphernalia. Wakeen's father told officers, while Wakeen seemed tired when he picked the boy up, he did not appear under the influence.

A clerical court appearance has been scheduled for Sept. 9.