Family stands behind father who left daughter in burning car

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A South Carolina man accused of leading troopers on a chase, then leaving his daughter inside a burning car, faces new criminal charges.

Imhotep Norman, who goes by O’Sha Norman, of Spartanburg was charged with homicide by child abuse. He’s now charged with failure to stop for blue lights and siren resulting in death.

The 26-year-old also faces three new counts of possession with intent to distribute drugs.

On Monday, 7News spoke with a family who said they stand behind him as they grieve the loss of Xena. To Xena’s family, the 1-year-old was a shining light, quick to laugh, and full of hugs.  

Her grandmother Christian Palmer helped care for her every day. “She was a lovely baby, you couldn’t do anything but love her, nothing but love,” said Palmer.

Friday night, Xena’s life ended when the car she was in caught fire.   

“I just couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t imagine. It just hurt me, broke my heart. My heart is broken in so many pieces,” Palmer said.

Troopers say they were pursuing her father for speeding, and they say Norman eventually escaped out of the car after it caught fire, leaving Xena inside.

“I just know that the car wasn’t on fire when I got out of the car,” Norman told a judge at his bond hearing on Friday night. “I would have stayed in the car with my daughter. I would never have got out the car while the car was on fire.”

The family of Xena’s mother, Thaisa Young, joined together Monday in solidarity behind Xena’s dad.

“We believe him, 100 percent, both sides of the family believe what he’s saying. If he would have known, he would not have got out of the car,” said Xena’s great aunt Renalla Clowney.

When the incident occurred Friday on I-85 in Greenville County, Norman was charged with homicide by child abuse. Highway Patrol added four new charges, three of them are possession with intent to distribute drugs. Investigators say he threw a bag of what later was found to be marijuana, meth, and amphetamines out of the car while they were in pursuit.

Despite the charges, the family asked for prayers for Xena’s mother and her father, too.

“Just keep our family in prayer, that’s all, just always keep us lifted up for our family that’s all we need is prayer, prayer,” said Palmer.

The family is still making arrangements for the child’s burial.  

They’ve set up a Go Fund Me page to help pay for the funeral costs, and are grateful to the people who have supported them so far.

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