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Grandmother charged after two grandchildren die in her care less than a year apart

‘As her daughter, it kills me to say it. As their mother, I demand it. I will fight for them,’ Kaila Nix said

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar,Andrea Blanco
Thursday 30 March 2023 21:32 BST
Florida parents recall moment two children died while in grandma’s care

A Florida woman has been charged with aggravated manslaughter after two of her grandchildren died just months apart while under her care.

Former school principal Tracey Nix, 65, is facing the charges following the death of her seven-month-old granddaughter Uriel Schock in a hot car on 1 November, ABC first reported. Ms Nix is accused of leaving the baby in the back seat of her SUV while she practised piano inside her home in the city of Wauchula.

Temperatures on the day of the tragedy reached 90 degrees. Ms Nix claimed she was not aware of the situation until one of her grandsons arrived and “all of a sudden” it “came across her head” that Uriel had been in the SUV with the windows rolled up all afternoon.

Ms Nix’s husband Nun Ney Nix unsuccessfully attempted to perform CPR on the infant, an affidavit reviewed by The Independent shows.

Uriel’s death came less than a year after her 16-month-old brother, Ezra, drowned in a pond while he was at Ms Nix’s home. The grandmother had reportedly fallen asleep on the couch in the living room while her partner was running errands.

Speaking to ABC News in an exclusive interview, the children’s parents Kaila Nix and Drew Schock have said the circumstances surrounding the unthinkable tragedies have been devastating.

Tracey Nix with grandson Ezra Shock, who drowned in a pond near her house while under her care (ABC)

“It’s really difficult to know that my mom is the one who broke his heart, you know, My mom,” Kaila told the network through tears.

On the day that Uriel died, Kaila had asked Ms Nix to babysit the baby because she had a hair appointment. According to the affidavit, Ms Nix told investigators that she forgot Uriel was in the backseat after returning home from having lunch with her friends.

“[Ms Nix] said she didn’t have ‘anything specific’ on her mind and it’s not like ‘I was rushing in the house to do anything...I just forgot,’” the affidavit states.

An autopsy determined Uriel died shortly after she was left in the back seat of the vehicle. Ms Nix only remembered that she was babysitting Uriel nearly three hours later.

The child died as a result of hyperthermia. Her manner of death was ruled a homicide.

“To think of the last moments of her life as a mother is gut-wrenching,” Kaila told ABC.

Kaila Nix and Drew Shock (ABC)
Kaila and Drew with their son Ezra (ABC)

As Kaila and Drew identified their daughter’s body, they began to grapple with the reality that two of their children had died under the care of Ms Nixon.

“And that it actually just f***ing happened twice. In our lifetime,” Drew said.

The grieving father recounted learning about Ezra’s death just three days before Christmas in 2021. Drew said he received a call from Ms Nix’s husband telling her she found Ezra lying face down about knee-deep in a large pond within feet of her home.

“He goes, ‘Something happened to Ezra’,” Drew told ABC as he broke down in tears.

At the time, Kaila was six-month pregnant with the couple’s fourth child. Upon learning about the drowning accident, Kaila reportedly rushed to her parents’ home as fast as she could, driving 85 miles an hour and ultimately having a head-on collision with another car.

“I could see the helicopter landing,” Kaila told ABC. “I didn’t look. When there was a stop sign.”

Kaila said she then ran barefoot to get to her son.

“If I’m objective — she needs to go to prison. As her daughter, it kills me to say it. As their mother, I demand it,” Kaila added. “I will fight for them.”

Ms Nix and her daughter Kaila (ABC)

The parents said after Ezra’s death, they “didn’t trust [Ms Nixon] at all”. And would never let their four-year-old firstborn child go to their grandparent’s home.

“We were anxious, but I loved my mother and I am a daughter that wanted her mom in her life in some capacity, and in that moment, I thought that I could believe in second chances,” Kaila said. “When I was told that Ezra’s death was an accident, some sliver child part of me, thought, ‘Ok good, I get to keep this mom. This grandmother. This person.'”

The parents said that they are learning to come to terms with the difficult decision because they want justice for their late children.

“I want justice for my son. I want justice because he didn’t get that. And now I got to sit here and expose this. That way, I don’t let what happened to my son happen with my daughter. And just get off scot-free because I couldn’t live with that as a parent,” Drew told ABC.

William Fletcher, the attorney representing the grandmother, said it was “obviously an accident” and the “question was – is it culpable negligence?”

Mr Fletcher said that “Tracey loves her daughter and her son-in-law and all of her children and her grandchildren" and she was “totally devastated” by their deaths.

According to the lawyer, if found guilty, Ms Nix could face between 12-30 years in prison.

“If I’m objective – she needs to go to prison," Ms Kaila Nix said. "As her daughter, it kills me to say it. As their mother, I demand it. I will fight for them."

According to court documents, Ms Nixon was released on bond after her November arrest. She is scheduled to appear in court again on 28 March for a pretrial hearing.

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