Margette Staten spoke out for the first time after admitting to accidentally leaving her two-year-old great-grandson in a hot car for more than two hours while she shopped in a Springdale Walmart.
Police said Joniah Darius Chronister died Friday afternoon.
William James Staten, 51, and Margette Inise Staten, 61, both of Springdale, are the child’s great-grandparents. When they emerged from the Walmart after buying school supplies, the couple found the lifeless body of their great-grandson inside the Ford Focus.
The 2-year-old boy was in the dark-colored car with the windows up and no air conditioning for two hours, police said.
The boy’s grandmother, Debbie Martin, sat down and showed photos of the little boy.
“For Christmas, we bought him his own skateboard,” Martin said. “He used to ride it around like this all the time.”
The family showed some home videos that they say are all they have to remember little Joniah by.
“This computer is the only thing we have that has his voice on it and shows his personality through it,” Martin said.
Staten said she and her husband forgot Joniah was in the car after he fell asleep.
“I went and looked at my husband and asked ‘did we bring him with us?’ My husband’s face just went totally white,” she said. “We had been shopping to get their school supplies, and we didn’t really think we were in there that long.”
Staten said she was horrified when she returned to her car and found a tragic scene.
“He wasn’t moving. He was just lifeless,” she said.
The family said this was an accident, but one that could have been prevented.
“It could be your kid, your parents or your grandparents that forget,” Martin said. “We are not perfect. You just need to take 2 seconds to just look.”
Staten said this is an accident that has scarred the family forever.
“If I could turn back the hands of time, I would,” Staten said.
The great grandparents tell 5NEWS they had just moved to the area from California to help raise Joniah and his siblings.
The family is in the process of setting up funeral arrangements for Joniah.
The incident is still under investigation.
As of Monday, Springdale police say no charges have been filed against the great-grandparents.