Alanna Jean Orr, 50, was sentenced yesterday to 210 months in federal prison for allowing her 5 year old grandson to die inside her hot car while she gambled at a casino. U.S. Attorney Timothy Downing announced the sentence for the incident that happened in June of 2018. Orr has also been ordered to serve three years of supervised release and will have to pay $3,877.31 in restitution for funeral expenses
On June 21, 2018, Orr went to a casino in Harrah, roughly 20 miles east of Oklahoma City. Authorities said the grandmother left the boy, 5 year old Maddox Durbin, inside her car for 6 hours as outdoor temperatures reached 90 degrees. According to surveillance video, Orr arrived at the casino at 1:23 pm and left at 7:28 pm; the boy remained in the car throughout the duration of her gambling trip. Approximately fifteen minutes after she left the casino, according to an affidavit filed with the case, Orr called 911 and reported her grandson had choked and was not breathing. The affidavit stated Harrah police officers met Orr at the Harrah Police Department and attempted to resuscitate the child but found that rigor mortis had already begun.
On April 17, 2019, a federal grand jury returned an indictment that charged Orr with second degree felony murder by child neglect. The indictment alleged Orr caused the death of a child by “willfully failing to provide adequate shelter and supervision while she was responsible for the child’s health, safety, and welfare.” Because the defendant and victim are Indians and the offense took place on tribal trust land, the crime was subject to federal jurisdiction.
In July 2019, Orr pleaded guilty to the indictment. During a hearing before U.S. District Judge Scott Palk, she admitted she caused her grandson’s death by leaving him unattended on a hot summer afternoon in the back seat of her car with no air conditioning.
Orr was facing a maximum potential penalty of life in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Experts are warning parents to remember their children in their vehicles: leaving children behind in a car during the summertime can be lethal. In 2019, 52 children died from heat after being left behind in vehicles. In 2020, two children have already died in hot cars.
Automobiles can become deadly ovens in the summer. When the outside temperature is only 70, the temperature inside a vehicle can climb to 113 degrees in an hour. On a 95 degree day, temperatures inside a vehicle can warm to 138 degrees in an hour.
Authorities warn drivers to never leave a child in an unattended car, even with the windows down. Drivers should make it a habit to open the rear door of the car every time they park to ensure no one is left inside. Children have also been known to sneak into cars on their own, becoming trapped and dying as a result. To prevent that, authorities recommend that people keep their vehicle locked at all times, even when it is inside a garage. Authorities also recommend that keys never be left within reach of children. If a child is ever missing, people should immediately check the inside, floorboards, and trunk of all vehicles in the area.
On average, a child dies in the United States every 8 days from being left behind in a hot car.