Dad Leaves Baby to Die in Hot Car & It Could Happen to Anyone

If I had to pick one word that describes what it's like to be the parent of a baby, it would be consuming. As in, your baby consumes your life -- your every waking thought, it seems. When I think back on the months when my kids were very small, I feel like I had a 24/7 focus. My brain station was set to All Baby, All the Time. Which is why I cannot begin to understand how a father in Indiana managed to completely forget about his baby girl last weekend ... for several hours. In a car. During a record-breaking heat wave.

It's the worst kind of story, and one with the saddest possible outcome.

Eighteen-year-old Joshua Stryzinski had brought his baby girl to a friend's house last Saturday afternoon, before he headed on to visit his parents. That's the point where he apparently became "mixed up," and went into his parents' house believing that he'd left the baby with his friend.

The reality was that little Chloe Stryzinski, who was just 4 months old, was strapped into the car seat in the backseat of his car. She remained in the car for hours while Joshua visited with his parents, as temperatures outside soared to 104 degrees.

Joshua discovered her when he finally got back into his car to pick up the baby's mother from work. The 911 call -- which I'm not even going to link to, because I'm certain it's unbearably horrifying -- recorded "screams of anguish" as Joshua's brother begged a dispatcher to send paramedics to help the child.

As you can probably imagine, it was far too late. Chloe suffered third degree burns from the extreme heat (her car seat reached 119 degrees), and she was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

I have to say, I've covered some pretty terrible child-related fatalities before, but I think this is the worst. There are accidents where you can sort of imagine how they might have happened -- no matter how much you'd rather not do so -- and then there's something like this. How does a father take his baby from one house, drive to another and, in the process, forget the baby is in his care? How in the name of everything could he leave his baby in a car for HOURS while she died such an unspeakable death?

As it turns out, it's not as uncommon as you might think. In most cases, it happens exactly like it happened with Joshua: an otherwise loving and careful parent gets busy, or distracted, or confused by a change in his or her daily routine, and forgets a child is in the car. Fifteen to twenty-five times a year, a child is left in this way.

As one researcher said,

Memory is a machine, and it is not flawless. Our conscious mind prioritizes things by importance, but on a cellular level, our memory does not. If you're capable of forgetting your cellphone, you are potentially capable of forgetting your child.

Joshua told police that he was used to knowing his child was in safe hands: "The normal routine is that someone is always watching my kid." Something happened that day, and he just ... lost track. I can't imagine it. I'm sure most of you can't either. As awful as it is to assign blame, it's even more uncomfortable to struggle with the idea that someone may not be at fault here, because the results were so horrific.

Joshua Stryzinski has pleaded not guilty to neglect of a dependent resulting in death. I don't know what will happen to him, but I can't imagine that the law can deliver a punishment worse than what he's already experiencing. I feel sorry for him, and for what he must be going through. But mostly I feel sorry for that little girl, and for the rest of her family who must be wondering the same thing the rest of us are: how could this happen? How?

Do you think it's at all understandable that a parent could forget their baby in a hot car?

Image via The Greenfield Daily Reporter

baby health, safety


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the4m... the4mutts

I know it happens, but logically, no. I do not "understand" it. I haven't ever lot track of where one of my kids were, or been so heavily reliant on other people watching them, that I forgot I had them.

He's young, obviously inexperienced with children, and he royally screwed up.

nonmember avatar N

I honesty don't see how it could happen to me. I'm always talking to my son, even when he's rear facing. His prescence is unforgettable to me. I can see how it would be easier for a dad to forget about a child. I feel sorry for their family, but I always truly wonder how it's possible that you could just "forget" your own kid.

jrphelps jrphelps

These stories always make me ill & cry.  I can not imagine how this poor baby felt & how long she screamed.  Rest in peace sweet baby angel

Bertha21 Bertha21

This could not happen to anyone.... I don't know how this could happen. I feel sooo bad for the baby. :[ What a painful death! :[

lorel... lorelei10

are you crazy? as much as i feel sorry for him, your memory shouldt fail that much, my DH is ALWAYS double checking the baby. ALWAYS. He never goes anywhere without him unless hes working (he has the only car) and would never leave the baby in the car even for 2 seconds to run into the gas station. anything can happen and no matter what routine you are used to that baby should be first on your memmory and first on your priority list. If i by some chance did what he did i wouldnt plead not guilty either. I would hate myself so much that i would feel that i DESERVED to go to prison for years. maybe even life.

I feel bad for the guy because i couldnt imagine being the reason your bbay is dead but never in a million years would he deserve to be let off the hook for that mistake. If i were him, i wouldnt WANT to be let off the hook. If i were that kids mother, id probably kill HIM in a fit of rage.... but that would be a biased action... id take out anyone if they hurt my kids accidentally or not.

nonmember avatar Lilac

What I don't get is why he pleaded not guilty. He is guilty and a real man would admit it and hope the judge would be understanding. I have very little pity for people who forget there child in a car! A little human being they are suppose to love and watch out for.

Betty Zam

This is one of those things, I do NOT want to understand. People won't leave their cars with out their phones but CAN forget their kids? What? Also, when you get out of the car, wouldn't you realize, hey where is my kid? Or, how do you JUST LEAVE, your kid at your friends house and not even think, OMG I just left my kid and should go back immediately. I feel so bad for the mom. This is the second story of a dad leaving his kid in the car that I have read in the last few months. 


carole76 carole76

So sad, I could not imagine how the family is feeling. So, so sad.

nonmember avatar Michelle

While this was obviously a tragic accident, NO, I DO NOT understand how this could happen. Even during the first four months after having my daughter where I was so sleep deprived I still wonder how I did it, I NEVER ONCE got "mixed up" as to her whereabouts. Even now when she is 3, I STILL check that carseat even when I KNOW FULL WELL she is not actually in it. Rest in peace, little baby girl.

nonmember avatar India

I try not to judge but I just cannot wrap my brain around how parents do this. It has nothing to do with being young and unexperienced, it's just stupidity to me. I had my first child at 17 and never forgot or left her anywhere, now at 25 and a mother at 3 I just can't get this. First off a carseat is a pretty large object in your back seat, how do you miss that whether threw a window or your rear view it's in plain view. Second sounds all babies and kids make noise and 3rd instinct even if you forget something little and dumb you have that feeling your forgetting something. But that excuse thst he was used to his kid being with other people is just ughh..That poor baby it breaks my heart to think of what she went through R.I.P

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