A 48-year-old bus driver has been charged with reckless endangerment after leaving his two elderly parents locked in his sweltering car with the windows closed for hours while he drove his bus route. The 85-year-old disabled father died while in the vehicle, apparently from heat stroke.
Theodore Pressman, of Beacon, New York, left his father, Joseph Pressman, and his mother, Joyce, inside a black Suzuki in an office complex parking lot in Peekskill, New York, for about three hours on Monday, June 7th.
The outdoor temperature was in the mid-80s, but WCBS-TV reported that the temperature inside the car rapidly rose past 110 degrees. 75-year-old Joyce left the car and entered a nearby restaurant because the car became too hot. Since both of the elderly Pressmans suffer from dementia, Joyce was unable to find her way back to the car to help her husband.
Detective Sgt. Eric Johansen of the Peekskill police department said, “it appears they did not have the physical or mental capacity to deal with the situation.” Aside from the dementia, the police would not discuss any of the couple’s other infirmities, although Joyce weighs only 80 pounds.
Johansen did say that there was no indication that the younger Pressman intended to harm his parents in any way.
Johansen also said that Theodore Pressman often left his parents “at restaurants, delis, McDonald’s” while driving a bus. “This was a frequent practice, but as far as we know he had not left them in a car before.”
Peekskill police Chief Eugene Tumolo said an autopsy indicated that Joseph Pressman’s death was a homicide and more charges may be added at a later date.
When Theodore Pressman returned to his car after his route his mother was outside the vehicle but the elder Pressman, who was still inside the car, was not responsive. The younger Pressman called 911 but it was too late, and Joseph Pressman was pronounced dead. Joyce Pressman was taken to a hospital, treated for heat exposure and released.
Rick Tocco, the owner of the nearby Atrium restaurant said that the younger Pressman often left his parents in the restaurant for hours at a time and that he often appeared overwhelmed with the responsibility of caring for his parents.
At an appearance in Peekskill City Court when the judge ordered Theodore Pressman to stay away from his mother, Pressman argued with the judge saying “I know what she needs. … I have to make sure she has food.”
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