Fort Mitchell, AL – A U.S. Army sergeant is facing murder charges after he forced his girlfriend’s five year old out of the car on a dark, busy roadway on Sunday night and the little boy was killed by another vehicle.
U.S. Army Sergeant Bryan Starr, 35, told investigators that five-year-old Austin Birdseye was acting “unruly” in the car at about 8 p.m. on Nov. 29, The Tribune-Democrat reported.
So Starr pulled into a church parking lot on State Route 165 and told the little boy to get out of his Dodge Charger.
Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor said the child’s mother, Christina Birdseye, was not in the vehicle with Starr when he made Austin get out in the rain, The Tribune-Democrat reported.
Starr said he lost sight of Austin but then he saw traffic stopped in the roadway, The Tribune-Democrat reported.
The five year old had walked onto the highway and been struck by a Toyota Avalon.
Sheriff Taylor said the driver of the Toyota was not at fault because of the visibility, The Tribune-Democrat reported.
“We have their information and we’ve spoken to them, and will speak to them again. But at this point, there’s no indication that they had any chance of not hitting the little guy,” Sheriff Taylor told the Ledger-Enquirer.
Austin was alive at the scene and transported to Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital for treatment.
Russell County Coroner Arthur Sumbry Jr. pronounced Austin dead at 8:51 p.m. at the hospital, WTVM reported.
Sheriff Taylor said there may be surveillance video of the crash from the church where Austin was dropped off.
Army officials from Fort Benning said Starr is a Sergeant First Class assigned to 3rd Squadron, 16th Cavalry Regiment, 316th Cavalry Brigade, WTVM reported.
He has served 17 years in the armed forces and had one combat deployment to Iraq, according to a statement released by the base.
Sheriff Taylor said Starr turned himself in to Russell County authorities on Monday and was charged with reckless murder, The Tribune-Democrat reported.
“It’s just horrific,” the sheriff said. “I can’t imagine the mother’s grief that she’s going through.”
“What do you say to that? What is your thought process when you tell a 5-year-old to get out of the car on a rainy night, because they were being loud in the car?” the sheriff asked. “It’s just heartbreaking.”
Austin and his mother lived with Starr in a home on Utah Street about two miles from where the incident occurred, the Ledger-Enquirer reported.
Alabama state troopers working for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) are conducting the accident investigation and Russell County sheriff’s deputies are investigating the five year old’s murder.