AMERICAN FORK, Utah (KUTV) — New details have been released in the case of an 11-year-old boy who died inside a hot car in the parking lot of an American Fork Care Center in Utah.
Joshua Hancey died in the summer of 2021.
At the time of his death, Hancey was in the care of Roost Services, a company that offers care programs for people with disabilities.
The American Fork Police Department responded to the parking lot of Roost Services at 42 North 200 East after staff members found Hancey in the back seat of a car on July 21, 2021. According to investigators, Hancey was inside the car for at least two hours before he was found.
The boy's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit after Utah County Attorney David Leavitt declined to charge the caretakers or the company.
"This is the worst nightmare -- to have a child in someone else’s care die after being overlooked,” Leavitt said at the time. “For it to be a criminal charge, the mistake has to be of such a gross nature that it shocks your conscience so to speak. When we looked at the facts of the case, what we found was a tragic accident, not a crime.”
On Monday, an attorney for Joshua Hancey's estate said the wrongful death lawsuit has been "settled," though he didn't elaborate on the details.
"Roost Services LLC is no longer in a position financially or otherwise to neglect other disabled individuals." according to a statement from attorney Peter Mifflin. "No more children will be neglected or die in Roost Service’s day treatment program. From our point of view, that is a good outcome."
In the statement, he asked what it would take for a prosecutor to "punish the death of a disabled child as heavily as it punishes the death of a dog," writing that the death of a disabled child in a hot car "merits at least equal criminal punishment."
The following is Mifflin's full statement to KUTV:
I can confirm the case has settled. My clients are grateful for the community scrutiny, specifically from Representative Mike McKell and others who helped keep a spotlight on this story for an extended period of time.
We are grateful for various members of the community and media that have paid attention to our case and cared about the outcome.
We are within days of the 1 year anniversary of Joshy’s death. As such it is a sensitive time.
Members of the public have mused on social media regarding what good the lawsuit did, or what the point of judicial action would be after such a tragedy, as nothing will bring him back or make it right.
"What will it take for prosecutors to punish the death of a disabled child as heavily as it punishes the death of a dog?" one person wrote.
Another shared similar sentiments.
"I love dogs and I love the disabled. When they die in the back of hot cars, we should be outraged. If killing a dog in a hot car merits criminal punishment, killing a disabled boy in a hot car merits at least equal criminal punishment."