Originally created 11/07/97

Police charge father with child neglect



A father whose two children were rescued from a fire on Halloween has been charged with child neglect after police accused him of leaving them home alone.

Lewis Gaines, 25, of Pace's Run Apartments on Brandt Court, was arrested and charged Tuesday, said Capt. Tom Galardi, spokesman for the Aiken Department of Public Safety.

Mr. Gaines told investigators he left the children, ages 2 and 3, sleeping when he went to work on Friday morning.

"He said he didn't think there'd be a problem because his wife was getting off work and was going to be home soon," Capt. Galardi said.

Aiken firefighters responded to a 911 call about 7:40 a.m. after a neighbor, Donald Simpkins, spotted smoke coming from an upstairs apartment. Mr. Simpkins told police he saw two toddlers with their faces against a screen window.

Capt. Galardi said Mr. Simpkins kicked in the apartment door and rescued the children. Both youngsters were treated and released from the hospital and put into emergency protective custody with a family relative, he said.

A pot burning on the stove caused the fire, but it's not certain how it got there, Capt. Galardi said. Mr. Gaines has said he didn't put it there, the public safety spokesman said.