Houston Teacher Charged After Allegedly Putting COVID-19-Positive Son in Car Trunk

Houston Teacher Charged After Allegedly Putting COVID-19-Positive Son in Car Trunk
Employees of Nomi Health check in a long line of people for COVID-19 tests in North Miami, Fla., on Dec. 21, 2021. (Marta Lavandier/AP Photo)
Naveen Athrappully

A Houston school teacher has been charged with child endangerment after allegedly putting her COVID-19-positive son in the trunk of her car to prevent catching the infection from him while taking him to a test center.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Sarah Beam, a teacher at Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, stopped at the Pridgeon Stadium drive-thru COVID-testing center located in northwest Harris County on Jan. 3 and informed the school district director of health services, Bevin Gordon, that her child was in the trunk of the car.

When Gordon asked to see the boy, Beam unlatched the trunk, and the 13-year-old was found inside. Gordon informed Beam that she wouldn't carry out the test unless the child was transferred into the vehicle. Surveillance footage shows the child exiting the trunk and sitting in the car.

Gordon informed the police about the incident. After law enforcement arrived, Beam explained that she put her son in the trunk to prevent him from spreading the infection. The police issued an arrest warrant for the 41-year-old teacher for the crime of child endangerment.

The high school teacher was taken into custody at 3 p.m. on Jan. 8 and has since been released after posting a $1,500 bond around 4:45 p.m. the same day. Beam has been working in the school district since 2011. She has now been placed on administrative leave.

The school district told KPRC in a statement: “CFPD was alerted that a child was in the trunk of a car at a drive-thru Covid-19 testing site earlier this week. Law enforcement conducted a full investigation, resulting in a warrant for arrest. Thankfully, the child was not harmed.”
According to local TV station KHOU-11, Sgt. Richard Standifer with the Texas Department of Public Safety said, "I have never heard of somebody being put in a trunk because they tested positive for anything.”

Standifer said the boy could have been seriously hurt if there was an accident, since the trunk doesn't provide the passenger safety that seats do, and the child wasn't protected by a seat belt as required by law.

“In the event that the vehicle is in a crash, there’s no way to really secure a person in a trunk,” he said.

“Most of your vehicles are constructed with crumple zones in the front and rear of the vehicle, so if the individual is in the rear of the vehicle and they’re involved in a crash, they’re probably at greater risk of being injured because they’re designed to absorb energy in the front and the rear.”