The mother who was arrested for leaving her 21-month-old toddler in a hot car for several hours on June 21, resulting in the child’s death, has been cleared of all charges, District Attorney Rick Wesenberg said Monday.
The announcement regarding Nicole Engler’s case came during a press conference at the Roseburg Public Safety Center.
Wesenberg said his completed investigation into Engler’s actions supports his decision to drop criminal charges.
“I have decided I will not pursue criminal charges in this matter, and I have taken actions to dismiss the charge of manslaughter that was pending while the investigation was underway,” Wesenberg said.
He said his decision was not based on public opinion, but on the evidence, the limits of Oregon law and the likelihood of a conviction if it had gone to court.
News of the decision drew widespread criticism on social media, but also praise from Engler’s attorney, David Terry.
“What happened was a horrible, tragic accident,” Terry said. “Any reasonable person who takes the time to investigate in an objective, professional, comprehensive way, there is no way you could reach a conclusion different.”
Wesenberg said he sought an expert opinion from a doctor who evaluated Engler’s mental state and consulted with people at the Oregon Department of Justice, who evaluated the evidence.
“There is no evidence, nor do I believe that Nicole Engler was consciously aware that Remi was in the car when she parked for work that morning,” Wesenberg said.
Wesenberg said Nicole Engler woke up on the morning of June 21, finding her husband Peter Engler still asleep after working the late night shift at Mercy Medical Center. She prepared the child for day care, put her in the rear facing car seat and left home with the intent to take Remington to day care.
He said within minutes of leaving home Nicole Engler had a lapse of awareness and forgot that Remi was in the car. She passed the turnoff to day care and went directly to work at Evergreen Family Medicine.
Around 10 a.m., Wesenberg said Engler had one of her patients cancel, so being tired from staying up with the child during the night, she returned to her vehicle go to a coffee stand. Still there was no sound from the child to alert her, and she went back into work.
After a fairly cool morning, the hot sun came out after the cloud cover burned off and she didn’t discover the child in the vehicle until she left work late in the afternoon during the hottest part of the day, when she discovered her daughter, Remington Engler, blue and unconscious inside the car.
Engler rushed Remington inside and attempted to revive her, but the girl later died at Mercy Medical Center, according to court documents. Engler told police she thought she had dropped her child off at daycare.
“If you have ever heard a scream that just curdles your brain of a mother coming in screaming about her child, you can’t get that out of your mind,” Evergreen Family Medicine President Tim Powell said in June.
Wesenberg said Monday that a urinalysis showed that Engler had consumed marijuana lawfully, some time before the incident but was not impaired on the morning of June 21.
“My initial struggle with this case was that I simply could not accept that a parent could forget the most important person in their life,” he said. “In this case all the evidence indicated that Remi was loved and cared for in every way a mother and father could.”
Wesenberg said his decision was not swayed by letters he received from those who felt Engler should be prosecuted and those that encouraged dismissal of the charges.
“It was based on evidence and the law that applies to this case,” he said.
Terry said the Douglas County Major Crimes Team and Douglas County District Attorney’s office should be recognized for taking time to fully investigate.
“I’m really proud of the job they did and when you see DA’s do their job well with integrity and respect for all involved, it’s pretty cool to see,” Terry said.
For the Englers, their lives will never be the same, he said.
“No, absolutely not, Remi was the light of their life, and everything they did, how they fixed up their house, the trips they planned and the routines they formed, were all built around Remi,” Terry said.
A Roseburg woman was arrested Thursday after her 21-month-old child died when she allegedly …
Engler, a family nurse practitioner at Evergreen Family Medicine on Edenbower Boulevard, has lived in Roseburg for nearly four years since moving to the area from Salt Lake City. She graduated from nursing school in 2005, received her master’s degree in nursing in 2009 and has worked in pediatrics, women’s health and family practice, according to Evergreen’s website.
Last week Nicole Engler faced a parent’s worst nightmare when she rushed her unconscious 21-…
A few days after the incident, Terry asked to have the case dismissed because Engler had suffered from lapsed memory that day.
According to Gene Brewer, an Arizona State University associate professor of psychology who researches memory processes, forgetting a child in the car can happen to anyone.
“Memory failures are remarkably powerful, and they happen to everyone,” Brewer said. “Functionally, there isn’t much of a difference between forgetting your keys and forgetting your child in the car.”