Gentry Man Didn’t Purposely Leave Son In Car, Prosecutor Says

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BENTONVILLE (KFSM) — Prosecutors declined to bring charges against a Gentry man who left his son in his car earlier this summer, saying the man didn’t do it on purpose.

Gentry police arrested Thao H. Xiong on Aug. 1 in connection with first-degree endangering the welfare of a minor after a coworker found Xiong’s son in his car.

“That statute requires that someone purposely desert a minor. The ensuing police investigation revealed that Mr. Xiong simply forgot his son in the car that day in the distractions of his morning routine, rather than purposely abandoning him,” said Nathan Smith, Benton County prosecutor. “Since no evidence was found to show that Mr. Xiong purposely deserted his son, no charges can be pursued. ”

Police said Xiong, 33, left his son in his car before he went to work July 24 at McKee Foods.

Another employee found the 4-year-old boy and took him to be treated by an on-site nurse, according to Gentry Police Chief Keith Smith. The boy was in the car roughly 35 minutes, Keith Smith said.

The boy appeared to have suffered some heat-related issues but wasn’t taken to a hospital.

“We’re lucky this wasn’t any worse than it was,” Keith Smith said.

Nathan Smith said a “swift response” saved the boy’s life.

“I am grateful to the citizens, first responders and police officers who responded so effectively when this young boy was found. Their swift response saved his life.”