Details released in death of toddler, infant; bond set

Josh Briggs and Sarah Perry
Staff Writer

The parents of two children who died Wednesday after being found in a truck located in a Paron pond appeared in court Friday before Saline County District Judge Mike Robinson.

During the court proceeding, Saline County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Rebecca Bush revealed details that allegedly led to the death of the children.

According to Bush, Jonathan Welborn, 30, and Brittany Hairston, 26, both of Benton, arrived at a residence in the 16000 block of Arkansas 298 on Wednesday after a swimming trip.

The adults allegedly left a 2-year-old girl and 6-month-old boy in a truck while they went inside the residence for at least 30 minutes, according to Bush.

The children were reportedly in car seats, but were not clothed, according to SCSO Detective Jason Ballard.

A witness at the scene said Welborn exited the residence without Hairston.

Ballard said Welborn was waiting for Hairston in the vehicle.

The witness also stated that she saw brake lights engage before the driver reversed the truck, crossing the highway, prior to quickly rolling down a hill.

"(The truck) was moving," the witness stated while describing the speed of the vehicle.

She added that she could not see the face of the driver.

Ballard said there was no sign of braking prior to the vehicle coming to a rest in a nearby pond.

Also, the truck reportedly traveled through a barbed wire fence and struck a tree before entering the pond.

When deputies arrived at about 10 p.m., Welborn was standing near the pond.

The children and the truck were recovered shortly after emergency personnel arrived. Crews immediately began administering treatment to the children. However, both victims later were pronounced dead, according to a report from SCSO.

Ballard also stated Friday that Welborn allegedly admitted to smoking methamphetamine prior to the incident. It also was reported that Hairston was allegedly intoxicated at the time of the incident.

Welborn faces two counts of negligent homicide and two counts of endangering the welfare of a minor. He is currently held on $100,000 bond at the Saline County Detention Center.

Hairston faces two counts of endangering the welfare of a minor for allegedly leaving the children in the vehicle and is being held on $25,000 bond.

Both are scheduled to appear before Judge Robinson at 1 p.m. Aug. 8.