Independence father charged with child endangerment after kids left alone in car set it on fire

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A 42-year-old Independence man is facing two counts of endangering the welfare of a child- creating substantial risk, after police say the man left two children alone in his car during the hot weather, which then led to the children apparently setting the car on fire with a lighter they found.

The children are approximately 6-years-old and 3-years-old.  Police say that on Tuesday at about 8:10 p.m., officers were called out to Cornerstone Congregation Church, 1316 S. Osage in Independence, for a car fire.

When police asked Jason Decota, 42, what happened, he reportedly told them that he had gone to the church to pick up his daughter from cheerleading practice. He left the two children outside in the Honda CRV while he went inside. The officer at the scene noticed only the driver’s window was rolled down approximately 2-3 inches, when the outside air temperature was approximately 92 degrees.

According to the probable cause statement, Decota told police the oldest asked if he could stay in the car, so Decota said he left the car in the shade and was only inside for approximately five minutes when somebody came inside and said his car was on fire.  The church had a fire extinguisher, so it was used to put out the fire.  Decota reportedly told police he left his ‘Zippo’ lighter and cigarettes in the car and that the oldest must have gotten ahold of it and set the car on fire.

The children were pulled out of the car. One suffered smoke inhalation. They were expected to recover.

Decota was released on$15,000 bond.