A South Carolina man is accused of bailing out of a flaming car following a police chase, leaving behind his baby daughter who burned to death inside.
Imhotep Osiris Norman, 26, was charged with homicide by child abuse in an incident that started with a routine traffic stop. Authorities say he failed to stop when a South Carolina state trooper attempted to pull his car over for speeding Friday night, then led authorities on a chase before abandoning the car once it became engulfed in flames.
After firefighters extinguished the blaze, they discovered the body of 1-year-old Xena Rah’Lah Norman in the backseat of the car, according to local station WHSN.
The incident began around 10: 20 p.m. Friday night. Capt. Kelley Hughes of the South Carolina Highway Patrol told The State that an officer noticed a car going 67 in a 45 mph zone and tried to pull it over, but the car continued onto Interstate 85 without stopping.
As a pursuit began, authorities noticed smoke and sparks were coming from the undercarriage of the car.
Law enforcement officers say they saw the driver of the car throw a “large bag” out of the window, that was later determined to contain illegal drugs, according to The Spartanburg Herald-Journal.
The car was soon engulfed in flames and the car began to slow down, before the driver came to a stop and jumped out of the car and fled on foot.
An emotional Norman appeared in court Saturday for his bond hearing. Through tears, he claimed that if had known the car was on fire he would have stopped.
“I would never leave my daughter,” he told the judge. “I would have gotten my daughter out of that car.”
He said that once he noticed sparks coming from the vehicle, he tried to stop but wasn’t able to.
“I seen sparks coming from under the tires when I tried to stop and I couldn’t stop at that point. I don’t know why what happened to the car where I couldn’t stop,” he said.
Norman’s mother, Sharon Mathis, echoed her son’s comments during the hearing.
“My son loved his daughter and would have never let this happen,” she said, according to the Herald-Journal. “He loved her so much. He loved her so much.”
Christina Palmer, who was identified as the young baby’s grandmother, also spoke in support of Norman.
“He would have died for her,” she said. “I don’t believe what they are saying. He would have saved his baby.”
Norman could now face 20 years to life in prison if convicted of the homicide charge against him. He is also facing charges of failure to stop for a blue light resulting in death, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute amphetamine.
A judge denied his bond.
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