Glendive mom charged for son's "hot car" death

Ashley Maria Howard of Glendive has been charged with negligent homicide for the death of her two-year old son in June.

Court documents state that the child was taken to Glendive Medical Center (GMC) on June 26 with a body temperature of 107 degrees, and then airlifted to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Billings, where he died on June 28.

A detective said that the unofficial cause of death declared by a Billings physician was hypterthermia, which is caused by overheating. The detective said that, according to the physician, the symptoms of hyperthermia would have been evident no more than two hours before the toddler was taken to the hospital.

Court documents say that on June 28, Dawson County Sheriff’s Deputy Miles Baisch was approached by the child's grandfather and Ashley’s father, who said they were concerned about the nature of the child’s death. The grandfather said that on at least three occasions, his daughter had left her child in the car in hot weather, and that had confronted her about it before.

The court documents also state that grandfather told Baisch that on June 25 the child’s father had taken the toddler for a routine checkup, and at that time the child was said to be in good health, raising the question as to how the child could have turned ill so quickly.

Baisch contacted Child Protective Services and was advised that they had opened an investigation in Billings as well. After speaking with CPS, Baisch learned from Deputy County Coroner Tyler Silha that the child had died.

The court documents state that Baisch talked with the child’s daycare provider, who said that she had also seen the child on June 25 and that he appeared to be in good health. She also said she saw Ashley Howard and her son at GMC on June 26, and Howard told her that her son had fallen asleep while wrapped in a blanket in the house with high temperatures.

According to court document,s Howard told investigators in Billings that the child had fallen asleep wrapped in a blanket while in the care of the daycare provider.

On July 12, Baisch interviewed Ashley Howard and said he needed to hear her side of the story. She told Baisch that on the night of June 25 she had an argument with her boyfriend before dropping him off at his late-shift at work. Text messages obtained by the Sheriff’s Department indicate that Ashley said that she was going to stay at a friend’s house for the night.

According to court documents, Howard later attended a friend’s party and arrived at around 11 p.m. Witnesses at the party said that they did not see Howard’s child with her .

During the interview, Ashley told Baisch that she left the party at around 5:30 a.m. to spend the night at a friend’s house next door. Howard said that at that point she removed her toddler from his child seat to lay him down on the car seat, and went inside to sleep for an hour before driving home.

Howard said that she slept until 1 p.m. on June 26, at which time she woke up to find the child still in the car with sweaty, pale skin, a high temperature, and labored breathing. Court documents state that Howard tried to cool him off in a bathtub before leaving and calling GMC at 1:18 p.m., telling them that she was bringing her child in.

Howard’s initial court appearance is scheduled for August 21.

Bond for Howard, according to the Dawson County jail roster, was set at $100,000.