Report: Lexington father drank alcohol before mower killed young daughter

gkocher1@herald-leader.comSeptember 2, 2011 

Adelaide McReynolds

A Lexington man has been charged with second-degree manslaughter stemming from the May 25 death of his 2-year-old daughter in a lawn mower accident.

Lexington police served a criminal complaint and summons on Monday against William Jackson McReynolds, 40, in the death of Adelaide McReynolds.

McReynolds could not be reached immediately on Friday for comment.

Adelaide died from blunt-force and sharp-force trauma after she fell off a zero-turn lawn mower that her father operated, police said. The accident happened at the McReynolds property on Hillgate Drive.

Court records filed in the case show that McReynolds "had an odor of alcoholic beverage" when he was interviewed by police after the accident.

"The odor was stronger as Mr. McReynolds faced me and spoke," Officer David Flannery II said in the complaint.

McReynolds told police he had worked earlier in the day at A.P. Suggins Bar and Grill, where he had consumed two one-pint draft beers, the complaint said.

When he arrived home, McReynolds allowed Adelaide to ride on the lawn mower with him. She sat in a cushioned child's chair that he placed on the front deck of the mower as McReynolds cut the grass. McReynolds said that in the past he had allowed his son to ride with him as he mowed.

"The seat is not fastened down or in any way attached to the mower," Flannery said in the complaint.

McReynolds told police that he made a few passes with the mower when his 7-year-old son, Sam, came out of the house and sat in McReynolds' lap. McReynolds continued to mow "at about half throttle" when he made a turn and Adelaide fell from the mower.

"Before Mr. McReynolds could stop he ran the child over and the blades were turning and struck the child in several areas of the body," the complaint said. "Mr. McReynolds advised that he struck the child before he even noticed that she was not in the seat."

Due to those facts, police determined a search warrant should be obtained to get blood and urine samples from McReynolds. He refused to submit to the test and was detained, the complaint said.

After obtaining a warrant, police took McReynolds to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, where blood was drawn and a urine sample was taken. Police then took McReynolds home.

On June 3, a lab report from Kentucky State Police said McReynolds had a blood-alcohol content of 0.04 percent, which is less than the legal driving limit of 0.08. At that concentration, a person would exhibit decreased attention span, decreased ability to concentrate, decreased judgment and decreased coordination.

However, a consultant for the state medical examiner's office reviewed the documentation and said that, at the time of the incident, the blood-alcohol content for McReynolds would have been 0.115 to 0.14 percent. (The court filing doesn't say how much time had elapsed between the accident and the time blood was drawn.)

"At these blood concentrations, an individual would show signs of intoxication noted above to a greater degree," the consultant said.

Due to the totality of the circumstances, police said there was cause to suspect that McReynolds "wantonly caused the death of another person by operation of the lawn mower under the influence of an alcoholic beverage," the complaint said.

McReynolds is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 12 before Fayette District Judge Megan Lake Thornton.

Second-degree manslaughter is a Class C felony punishable by five to 10 years in prison.

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