The 27-year-old father was suspected of shoplifting from a Walmart in the Philadelphia suburbs, and he was trying to flee the scene with his toddler, authorities said.
Witnesses told police that Christopher D. Kuhn did not strap his 2-year-old son into a safety seat before speeding off from the store in Levittown, Pa.
But, police said, Kuhn did take a moment to cover his license plate with a sweatshirt before hitting the road, where he was seen “driving recklessly” and traveling “at a high rate of speed through a steady red light,” according to an affidavit of probable cause.
Police said Kuhn’s Jeep Wagon was struck in an intersection by another car that had the right of way.
His vehicle rolled over — and his son was ejected from the wreckage, according to the authorities.
Authorities told CBS Philly that as his son lay dying in the street, Kuhn walked over to the small boy — then stepped over his body and fled on foot.
The toddler was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, authorities said.
Kuhn was quickly apprehended.
He is charged with third-degree murder, homicide by vehicle and endangering the welfare of children, as well as several other charges relating to theft and traffic violations.
“It was more important for Mr. Kuhn to attempt to get away from a misdemeanor retail theft by covering his license plate with his sweatshirt than it was to properly secure his 2-year-old son in his car seat before fleeing at a high rate of speed,” Bucks County Deputy District Attorney Robert James said, according to ABC affiliate WPVI.
Kuhn, from Hamilton, N.J., is being held on $5 million bail. It’s unclear whether he has an attorney.
Police were called Tuesday afternoon about a retail theft at the Walmart Supercenter in Levittown, just south of Trenton, N.J.
A security guard at the store told police that Kuhn was pushing his young son in a shopping cart and tried to leave the store without paying for a $228 Vizio sound bar. The guard tried to stop him, according to the affidavit of probable cause, which says Kuhn responded: “You can’t hold me here.”
Security personnel at the store told police that Kuhn had fled in a gold-colored SUV, which was heading south on Route 13.
Court records state that police soon arrived at the scene of the crash, from which Kuhn had fled on foot.
Police pursued him and took him into custody.
When an officer asked Kuhn where his child was, he responded, “back there” — referring to the site of the multiple-vehicle crash, according to court records.
The child was in the street near his father’s wrecked SUV; the car seat, authorities said, was still inside the vehicle.
No one else suffered serious injuries, police said.
Fernando Medrano told WPVI that he was the driver who hit Kuhn’s SUV as it went through an intersection. Medrano said he had a green light, and that he tried to brake but could not stop in time.
“It was too late,” Medrano told the station. “He was moving too fast.”
“I saw it when the baby flew, and I saw Kuhn run away,” he added. “I just can’t believe he ran away.”
Kuhn is due back in court Oct. 10.