Trenton Cook is the 24 year old Ohio man who allegedly ran over his own son twice because he was texting while driving.
News reports say that Cook has been charged with second-degree homicide by vehicle and with failing to exercise due care. Both charges are misdemeanors, and police say that Cook didn’t intend to kill his toddler son.
The 22 month old boy, Zakai A. Cook, was hit twice by Cook’s car in the driveway. He was taken to the hospital and died of his injuries. Cook was reportedly sending a text message while he accidentally hit his son with the car.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Cook Didn’t See His Son, Who Was Wearing a Bright Red Shirt. He Was Sending A Text Message While Driving
Cook was on his way home from work in Columbus, Ohio at around 2PM on May 8. He told police that as he approached his home at 2438 Bond Ave, he saw his girlfriend’s kids playing in the driveway. So he stopped and waited until he was out of the way.
Then he started to back his car into the garage. But as he drove in, he felt a bump, as if he had his something. He put his car in reverse, and felt another bump. When he got out of his car, he saw that he had hit his toddler son. He picked the boy up and brought him into the house, where his girlfriend called 911.
The child was taken to Piedmont Columbus Regional’s midtown campus and was pronounced dead from blunt force to the head.
Police said they were confused about why Cook didn’t see his son, who was wearing a bright red shirt. It was a clear, bright afternoon, and the driveway was otherwise empty and clear.
But when police checked Cook’s phone records, they found that he was sending a text message at 2:04PM — the very time when the child was hit. Cook’s girlfriend called 911 at 2:05PM.
2. Cook Has No Previous Criminal History, Other Than Minor Offenses
Police said that Cook has two other children and that there is no evidence that he has mistreated them. They said that he was clearly concerned for his son, Zakai, and that he seemingly didn’t intend to hit him.
Cook, 24, has no other criminal history other than minor offenses.
Chad Daugherty, the police officer who testified at Cook’s preliminary hearing, said that Cook should have been more careful — but he added that there was no evidence that Cook intended to hurt his son, and he said that Cook was clearly upset about the child.
The judge at the preliminary hearing offered Cook “condolences” for the loss of his child.
3. Cook Has Been Charged With Second Degree Homicide. His Bail Was Set at $2,800
At a preliminary hearing, Cook was charged with second degree homicide and with failing to exercise due care.
The 24 year old Cook apparently sent a text message while he was driving, which may have been why he didn’t see his nearly two year old son, Zakai, standing in the driveway. Cook hit Zakai twice with the car — once when he was pulling into the driveway, and then again when he backed up to investigate what the “bump” he felt was.
Police said there was no evidence that Cook intended to hit the child. They said he was clearly concerned about his son.
He was offered bail, which was set at a total of $2,800: $2,500 for the second degree homicide and $300 for failing to exercise care.
4. Cook’s Neighbors Say He Deserves Forgiveness and Prayer
Cook’s neighbors were full of sympathy for Cook and for his girlfriend over the loss of their son.
The Cook family told reporters they did not want to comment on the tragic incident.
But neighbors expressed their sympathy for Cook and, especially, for his girlfriend. “I know the family is hurt. Really hurt. She didn’t even get a chance to hold the baby or take care of the baby. I know she’s hurt,” one neighbor, Ty Qwon James.
James added, “We need to do better in life to bring our community together. Let’s work as a team. That’s all I can say,” explains James.”And offer their condolences and prayers to the family affected. I’m sorry that he was charged. I’m sorry he was distracted. God bless them, and God be with them. We have to forgive him in order for us to get over it. We have to forgive him.”
5. If Convicted, Cook Faces Up to a Year of Jail Time
Cook is charged wtih second degree vehicular homicide. In Georgia, that charge carries up to a year of jail time. It can also mean a fine of up to 1000 dollars.
Second-degree vehicular homicide is a misdemeanor. It is defined as causing the death of another person while committing any traffic offense — like texting while driving.
Texting while driving has been illegal in Georgia since 2010.