published Saturday, January 11th, 2014

Dad hunted in North Alabama while son, 5, sat in cold

Police say a 5-year-old boy was cold and hungry on Wednesday evening. So, sitting alone in his dad's car off a North Alabama road, the boy pressed the OnStar button.

On the other end of the call, Jackson County Chief Deputy Rocky Harnen later said, a representative from OnStar talked to the boy and then called the local authorities to report a child in need.

OnStar is an in-car communications device. Drivers often use the program for hands-free calling, help with navigation or a diagnosis of what's wrong with the car. And, sometimes, people use it to report a crime.

"That's really rare," Harnen said. "I can't ever remember it happening since I've been here."

When a deputy responded to the car, just off County Road 174 in Flat Rock, Ala., he found the boy still inside. Soon afterward, a man walked out of the nearby woods holding a rifle.

It was the boy's father: Brandon Mark Chambers, 29, of Trenton, Ga. Harnen said Chambers left his son in the car while he went hunting.

When the boy called OnStar around 5 p.m., the temperature was 31 degrees in Flat Rock, Ala. Chambers did not leave the car running while the boy waited inside. It was unclear how long the boy had been in the vehicle alone.

Police charged Chambers with child endangerment, and he left the Jackson County Jail after paying a $500 fine that night.

After Chambers' arrest, Harnen said, a member of the sheriff's office contacted Alabama's Department of Human Resources, which then gave the boy to a family member.

Chambers could not be reached for comment Friday.

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or at tjett@timesfreepress.com.

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