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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nonmember avatar Emmy

My heart goes out to any parent/family who has experienced this kind of horrible for the father going to prison, the guilt that he will be feeling for the rest of his life will certainly be punishment enough!

Katt709 Katt709

I will never understand how someone forgets their baby is in the car with them.

Jennifer Hoff

god i could not even imagine the guilt this guys is feeling who know he just wants to die himself

jodie... jodieharp

I live in Texas and you KNOW not to leave children in the car.  Even for five minutes.  Especially with the summer we had last year and the summer we're definitely going to have this year.  It's hard to have sympathy for someone who lives in an area where this risk is so high and you can't watch the news without being reminded not to leave your kids in the car!  It's insane that he forgot about his child in the first place.  >.>

Mary Della Valle

American society needs to return to more "old fashioned values" of treating children as a personal responsibiity and not just as an "accessory" or a F*** trophy, if you will. There are too many irresponsible parents in this nation and it does reflect well at all upon our society as being positive. So what if you are pro-life and believe in keeping the chid? If that child dies at some point during its childhood due to something like this, then that technically is no better than if it was aborted in the womb.

Nj Eirojnkcin

I will admit as a single mom I have made my mistakes none of which were life threatening or severe and now that I am not a single mom I still make the occasional oops. I don't know this family and I don't want to sound sexist but this sounds like a daddy who isn't used to have the kids with him. I as the mom have my kids with me 24/7 gives or take a few hours when daddy gives me a break so it's become an OCD habit to always make sure I didn't forget one of my kids in the shuffle but I think dads who are not used to the trips to and from school, to the store, etc have not developed this habit.

Nj Eirojnkcin

In addition I'd also like to state that this isn't just a problem in the heat.... My mom was a police officer in Illinois and fathers (yes the fathers) would drive to the bar in the middle of the night with their babies in the back seat and leave them in the car while they ran in to get a drink and get so drunk they'd forget and go out to a frozen baby. It became and epidemic in Illinois back in the late 80s and early 90s. That is pure criminal negligence (not to mention they were planning on drinking and driving with their infant in the vehicle) so I don't think this guy meant to do this or was a bad parent.. it just truly sounds like he was not used to having his chid with him and had not developed the mommy worry skills and unfortunately he willl never forget this mistake or overcome it

Venae Venae

Rosario - Really?  A ribbon for awareness?  But who will call you to remind you to put on your ribbon?

Where I live we have lots of babies who fall into pools and others left to cook in cars.  Everyone says the parents have suffered enough.  But think about it - if you really do want to get rid of your kid, toss them in the pool - "I must have left the door open!", leave them in the car "oops, thought I dropped them at day care", or for that matter, leave them in the bathtub - "I just went to answer the phone".  I begin to wonder just how many of these cases are "accidents".

And just throwing this out there -

*My neighbor's sis-in-law left her 9 month old in the tub w/a toddler and went to get the phone.  9 month old drowned.  No charges filed.  She's white.

*Parents left their little ones home alone (dad told mom he was headed home so she left) - they climbed into the neighbor's pool and drowned.  They are awaiting sentencing now for child abuse/neglect.  They are black.

*A father "forgot" his child in the car, child died.  He went to jail.  He is black.


penne... pennelopesmom

I was a young, single mother of twins and exausted for at least the first 5 years of their lives. My 'wake up' call was when I put them both in the car but forgot the stroller was still parked behind the car. I ran over the stroller and had a moment of sheer terror that my babies were still in it. Ever since then, I always do a head count before I put the car in gear.

fredd... freddiey03

I have fibromyglia, and one of the ways it presents it's self is memory loss. On a daily basis, I forget a lot of things, frequently I will go back home to make sure I locked the door, turned the stove off, grabbed my phone. I live in fear that one day I will forget the kids in the car. I don't think I could live through it. We are a one family car, and I'm ok with that. What really needs to happen is that we, as consumers, need to require car manufactors to install weight triggered safety devices where our children's car seats go. That way, when we turn off the car, the annoying bell starts to ding untill the weight off the seat is removed. This would prevent a lot of deaths. This is truely one of those things that everyone says, "It could never happen to me. How do you forget your children?" It could happen to you, how often have you lost your cell phone, or your car keyes? I am truely sorry and will keep all of you who have lost your children in this horrible way in my prayers. 

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