On Friday morning, 41-year-old Troy Whitaker packed up his 5-year-old daughter and 23-month-old son Lawson in the car. By that afternoon, he would face an aggravated manslaughter charge after his son was allegedly left in the car rather than dropped off at daycare while Whitaker ran errands.
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told reporters little Lawson was left in the car from about 8:30a to 4:30p; his father realized the little boy was still strapped in his car seat upon returning home with groceries.
“It was evident that he didn’t realize that the child was in the backseat until he arrived home from Publix,” Gualtieri said. “He was taking the groceries out of the front passenger seat and immediately dropped the bags — there are groceries all over the driveway — and then went and took the child out of the car seat.”
Whitaker performed CPR on the scene, said Gualtieri, but “it was obvious that he had been dead for a while.”
On Saturday, someone named Greg McKinney created the “Troy Whitaker Assistance Fund” on GoFundMe, which raised $5225 of a $100k before it was removed according to the available cache. The Associated Press says neither GoFundMe nor the man behind the page immediately responded to messages.
The campaign, an archive of which can be found here, read:
Troy Whitaker and his family underwent the most incomprehensible loss recently with the loss of their 23 month old son under tragic circumstances.
Troy is a firefighter paramedic with Hillsborough County Fire Rescue in Tampa, FL. Despite the credibility of being a public servant who gladly risks his life every time the tones go off, Troy will be facing enormous family costs on several fronts.
None of us can imagine what the Whitaker family is going through, and this burden should not be added on. We are asking 2 things. 1) pray to God for the strength and healing that this family will need, now and everyday henceforth, that He will place his hand upon this family, and 2) help with anything you can to help this family.
We we never know when or who God will call home. The legal burden this is causing is not indicative of who this family is. In a profession where so much is given of oneself, now is when we show the support, brotherhood and God’s unwavering wisdom and love.
Item #12 of GoFundMe terms and conditions explicitly forbids use of the platform for “the defense or support of anyone alleged to be involved in criminal activity.”