Baby Who Died in Hot Car Is a Horror Story for All Busy Working Parents

thermometerIt doesn't matter how many times I read the words "baby dies in hot car." Every time, I get the same feeling, right in the center of my stomach, right below my belly button. My throat constricts, and tears prick at the corner of my eyes.

It's a feeling of horror, thinking about what kids like the 7-month-old who died in his father's pick-up truck in Sugar Land, Texas this week were feeling in those last moments. But it's fear too. Fear because of all the crimes against children, a young one forgotten in a car is the one most of us look at and say, "Oh God, that could have been me."

I could be the criminal.

I could be the monster.

Here are the sparse details of what happened in Texas this week: The dad took his older kids to school on Thursday morning. Then he went to a business conference. He returned home around 3:45 p.m. Sometime later, his wife called and asked how the kids were doing. That's when he rushed out to the truck, realizing his baby had been there all day.

Now let's read between the lines. I imagine a Dad rushing to get the kids to school, rushing to a conference. I imagine a Dad who was trying to do so many things for his family that he never managed to do any of them quite as well as he could.

Been there, haven't you? A few months ago my husband fell ill, really ill, to the point where he had to be rushed to the ER. But in the days before his hospital visit, he was so incapacitated that I acted as if a single parent. I took over the morning run to school in addition to my after-school duties. I fed. I bathed. I clothed. And I worked.

This is not to say I did anything extraordinary. It's my job, and my hat is off to all the single parents who juggle it all for much longer than a week. But when your schedule is changed, when you have extra duties piled on you, things fall through the cracks.

Most of us have never left a child in a hot car. But we all have that memory that haunts us. The tearful call from a hungry kindergartner whose lunch you forgot to pack, perhaps. The 11 p.m. dash to the pet store to buy a new goldfish because the last one succumbed to hunger while your kid was at camp.

It's a horror that there are babies dying in hot cars. But part of the horror is knowing that there is no one good way to make these tragedies go away.

What is that mistake that haunts you and makes you feel like you could have been this dad?


Image via gematrium/Flickr

crime, death, accidents


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Alexis Coxon

MochaCocoaBean, thank you for sharing that story. I read it when it was first published and will never ever forget it.

Kristie, I'm so, so sorry for your loss :(  

Melanie Brideau

things fall through the cracks.??? i dont think its appropriate to say that.. it's not a thing. its not something on your to do list its a baby for christ sake!! i have a teen , a 2 yrs old and a 5 month baby  ive never ever left any of the 3 in a car alone never!! ive never forgotten them anywhere caus they are always with me. i have a billion things to do everyday  also ,as all parents do ,but leaving a child in your car to me unexcusable .... and yet people are saying .. yeah things happen , we all forget stuff.. this is not a chore you forgot to do , or a meeting or anything for that matter this is your child !! just driving to the store i check the kids in the mirror about 10 times to make sure they are ok , i just cant imagine this happening .. at all... i call that bad parenting at its worst ! poor poor kid.. can you imagine such a horrible horrible death.... poor little angel :(

nonmember avatar Veronica

Now I never forgot my child in the car but my ex-husband (before we were divorced) was at a carnival with me and our 3 mth old baby whom he was pushing in a stroller, he started talking with some people and walked off and forgot our baby!!! Luckily, one of my friends grabbed the stroller and brought it over to me!! Then he put my 6 year old son in the car so he could go skiing for several hours!!! I freaked out when he told and he didn't think anything was wrong with it!!!

LizMo... LizMomTo4Girls

I do the paranoid double & triple take all the time. 

Lauren Mausshardt

I'm just curious, but what exactly was he going to do with a baby at a business conference that lasted around 6 hours?? 

Wendy Smith Basso

I feel that there is one thing we can do. As a home child care provider, and with the number of centers and other home daycare we could make this a different story. This means that every daycare, child care center, preschool or any other entity that cares for children should call if the child is not there by their normal drop off time. This may not stop it, but it may help it. With today's technology it would take a simple text, phone call, email, or IM to their Facebook page or through Yahoo! etc. Instead of the storyline of "child forgotten in the car" it would say ..."child found by daycare calling about the where abouts of the child"

Venae Venae

Sorry, Wendy Smith Basso - why should someone have to call and remind you about your own kid?  And gee, what about weekends - you'd have to remember on your own.

Venae Venae

You never forget to go to work, do you?  He didn't forget about the conference.  And he got BACK in the car w/his dead baby and DIDN'T EVEN NOTICE HIM.  

I cry for our kids - they just aren't important enough to remember.

I don't want to hear that he has suffered enough losing his child.  That child died a horrible death - they pull their own hair out in agony.  He better go to prison.

Rosario Hinojosa

My heart goes out to the family.  We get so busy with life that this happens much too often.  A national campaign should be created,  like red ribbons for drug awareness, yellow for soldiers, pink for breast cancer....something can surely be created to help us remember the most important thing.  Our little ones.

Lauren Mausshardt

@ wendy there actually are daycare's that do that. I looked at a couple back when I was considering sending my daughter. The one I would have gone with actually had an attendance policy and they do call if your child is absent or not there by a certain time. They also still charged you for the absent day but that's neither here nor there. Just pointing out they do exist just not enough.

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