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 Jennifer

I feel sorry for the family. I forgot to buckle my daughters car seat in when leaving the store. Luckily we didn't get far before I noticed and pulled over.

Erin Nellen

I'm sorry I'm a mother of 4 children. Which means school doctors shopping and everything else. I will say this I DO PASS JUDGEMENT! I'm sorry but no ammount of "Life" excuses forgetting a child in a seat in my opinion it is just ABSOLUTELY INEXCUSEABLE. I do feel sorry for the families, but it's still inexcuseable PERIOD.

Jenei Berger

No. I can't ever understand this. I'm sorry, but no. I was a single mom for the majority of my kids lives, I have a child with Autism, I have had hectic, horrible days, but I have NEVER and would NEVER forget my CHILD IN A CAR. 

Becky Bearden-Rice

I almost forgot that my dd was in the car with me once. It was my first morning shift in months and I decided to drop her off at daycare when I left the house instead of having daddy do it (he usually did every morning). Grabbed coffee on the way, got to work and started to get out of the car when she sneezed. I was horrified that I almost left her in the car - middle of summer in the Ga heat. I rushed her to daycare and now I always double check the car seats, even six years later.

EllaF... EllaFaride

That Washington Post article some of you linked needs a disclaimer. That was by far the saddest thing I have ever read. This was an accident that could happen to anyone when normal routines get mixed up. So sad and so scary.

sofia... sofia0587

I always double check because shes soooooo quiet in the car most of the time i forget shes back there ofcourse when i get off the car i always look at the back seat whether shes in the car or not just incase.

Nj Eirojnkcin

I think it is absolutely disgusting that there are people judging the guy! We don't know him, he's probably an amazing dad who loved and doted on these kids who had an off day. LIKE MOST PARENTS he made a mistake only his was an irreversible fatal one. I'm sure no one is hurting or feeling more disgust than he feels about himself right now. I read this story to my husband and just the thought of it made him start crying and feel sick at the thought of having to find his child dead in the car especially for his own mistake. I for one have made parenting mistakes and luckily no one was harmed. There is not one parent alive who has not made a mistake and just gotten lucky.

sterl... sterling21

Poor baby, very sad. These "accidents" happen way to often, something is very wrong if it is common for Americans to forget helpless babies in hot ovens. And how did the mom go an entire day without asking about her baby? I think these cases have to be related to a lack of bonding, parents so busy they don't eat with thier kids, play with thier kids and are now forgetting a child's existance. My hubby bonded to my soon faster than me, if our son was not sleeping with us he would wake up and ask where the baby was. We do everything together, we rarely go anywhere with out him, even when I am driving alone or shopping alone I think of my son, feel an absence when I don't have him with me. I am sorry for this families loss, but they became so accustomed to not having thier children with them, and that had a horrid consequence.

jenza... jenzachsam

My problem is he dropped the other kids off, but he was driving a truck...  There is no excuse.  I don't give a flying fudge either.  Both my dh and I have worked 60+ hours a week..  Neither of us has left any of our children in a car either.  In my state they are now charging parents with negligence...  There is enough awareness out there that it should now be criminalized, but you ( a general you) sure as hell don't forget the damn cell phones!

nonmember avatar annabella

Once, I left my 2 month old son in the Suburban when I was going into a department store to shop. It was December and frigid out, which could have been nearly as bad as it being July and stifling. Thank God my Mom was meeting me to do some Christmas shopping and she said, "Oh, I thought you were bringing Hudson?", which reminded me that he was out there! It was 3-4 minutes at the most, but it just completely slipped my mind. He had been sleeping and quiet the whole ride in, and I had just forgotten he was there. He was sound asleep when I rushed back out to get him. Never knew anything had happened. The car was still warm. I understand how this guy forgot. I did it, and I am a fulltime Mom. This was a Dad. My husband is definitely more prone to forgetting things than I am. I feel terrible for this family, and especially the poor baby who had to suffer. It is an all around horrendous situation.

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