An elementary school teacher was charged in the death of his 11-year-old autistic stepson after the boy drowned in a bathtub in their Georgia home, authorities said.
Michael David Smith, 32, was allegedly helping the wheelchair-bound child in the bath when he stepped away to look after the boy’s three younger siblings in another area of the house Tuesday.
By the time Smith returned to the tub, it was too late.
Police arrived at the home as a family member attempted to save the drowned boy’s life, WGCL-TV reported.
“Officers did arrive to find I believe a family member attempted CPR, but I can't be specific,” Major Kevin Roberts with the Clayton County Police Department said.
Smith was charged with second-degree murder and cruelty to children. He is expected to make his first appearance in court on Wednesday.
There was nothing to indicate Smith deliberately caused his stepson’s death, police said.
“The rationale behind that is we all have a responsibility as parents and just citizens. We're not saying it was intentional but the word is negligent,” Roberts said. “We all have a responsibility as parents and just citizens in general to be responsible for our actions and the care of our children.”
Smith works at Smith Elementary School, where he teaches second grade.
“I am a firm believer in the adage, ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’” he wrote on a teacher website, describing himself as “a husband and a father of three wonderful children.”
There were no prior calls to Smith’s home and he does not have a criminal record, WGCL-TV wrote.
The three other children are in the care of their mother, who is not facing charges.