A South Carolina father was arrested for leaving his 1-year-old daughter to die in a burning car during a highway chase with police, according to South Carolina law enforcement officials.
The State reports the chase began around 10:20 p.m. Friday when a state trooper tried to stop a car for speeding in Greeneville County. During the pursuit, the car began smoking and sparks were emitted from the undercarriage. Eventually, the sparks caught fire and the car went up in flames.
As other troopers formed a moving roadblock, a large bag was thrown from the vehicle before it came to a stop. Firefighters eventually arrived at the scene to extinguish the burning car and discovered a body in the back seat, according to The State.
After the chase, police K-9 units located the driver, who was later identified as 26-year-old Imhotep Osiris Norman. Police said the bag thrown from the vehicle contained illegal drugs.
Norman was jailed in the Spartanburg County Detention Center. He was charged with one count of homicide by child abuse. So far, there have been no charges filed for the bag of drugs thrown from the car, according to warrants from the State Law Enforcement Division.
During his first bond hearing, Norman claimed he didn’t know the car was on fire when he decided to flee on foot.
“I just know that the car wasn’t on fire when I got out the car. I would have stayed in that car with my daughter,” Norman said during a Saturday bond hearing, according to FOX Carolina. “I seen sparks coming from under the tires when I tried to stop and I couldn’t stop at that point. I don’t know why what happened to the car where I couldn’t stop.”
Xena’s grandmother expressed support for Norman at the hearing, reported the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.
“He would have died for her,” Christina Palmer said. “I don’t believe what they are saying. He would have saved his baby.”
Xena’s mother started a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral expenses for the toddler.
“This situation I am facing has affected my ENTIRE LIFE!” Thaisha Young, Xena’s mother, wrote on the fundraiser page. “How could God take such a beautiful loving child and take my baby XENA from me?”
If found guilty, Norman faces a minimum of 20 years in prison.