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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maggi... maggie1738

read the article that mochacocaobean linked.  these are horrible tragedies, not crimes.  put a post-it on your steering wheel, pray for these poor broken families, and pray it doesn't happen to you.

Mary Ann Johnston

My prayers go out to this family.  I can't even imagine the guilt the father is feeling now and will for the rest of his life.  I am not one to condemn him either, because he is doing that already.  However, I do not understand how any parent could forget their child in the car.  I had two girls 13 months apart and so my life was hectic for years.  I do know what it's like to feel like you're going 10 ways at once, but the kids HAVE to be the first priority.  This will definitely change the father's way of thinking, whether or not he goes to jail.  And he will need all of our prayers.

29again 29again

I am so surprised at the number of parents who are giving this father a pass on killing his baby!  Because that is exactly what he did!  I do NOT understand HOW a parent can forget their own child!  I never will.  I have forgotten where my keys are, where the remote is, what I had for dinner.  But I NEVER forgot my babies!  Not once!  And that "it could have been any one of us" doesn't fly with me, either.  That is giving an excuse before it happens.  NO, it could NOT have been any of us.  It WAS the POS dad who forgot his baby in the TRUCK!!  HOW do you forget your BABY????  It is inexcusable, and it is criminal (at least, it should be criminal.)

Cheryll Bennett

There are ways to try to prevent this from happening to you; sadly, too few parents take the time to implement them.

Make it  a habit to ALWAYS look into the backseat before leaving the car. Even if you think no one is there.

Always leave a purse, phone, etc in the backseat with baby; you will be forced to see her when retrieving said items. Also, it will give the added benifit of preventing you from becoming distracted while talking on you cell phone while driving, which can make you forget baby is with you because you mind is preoccupied with the day's tasks already. Focus on the child, it will be harder to forget they are with  you.

Purchase a driver-reminder system currently on the market that will notify you if you leave the car with child still in it. While you're at it, contact your legislators and demand they support a bill that will require car makers to install these devices in all vehicles. Currently, the carmakers are lobbying congress to avoid this from becoming law; let's lobby congress ourselves, there's more of us.

Another cool reminder system for your phone:

Please visit and and  for more information on how you can help.

Dee Dee Estis

Thank you! My name is DeLores Estis and my son passed away in much the same way as this child in 2008, however it was my mother who forgot my son in her change of routine... I looked for a way to contact you directly, I hope you read all your comments as I really can't get across just how appreciative I am that you wrote this article and in such a way as to raise awareness and not point a accusatory finger, much as others do.
I posted it in my facebook awareness group... thank you so much

nonmember avatar Glenda

My deepest condolences to the family of this angel inm heaven. I agree that this could happen to anybody. I am the mother of three children, 11 and 6 year old boys and a 3 year old princess. When she was 3 months old, my husband who stayed home with her while I dropped off the kids to school and daycare, wasn't feeling well one morning and so I decided to take her for the drive, because I figured she would be better off with me in the car than home with a sick parent. I stopped for coffe on my way back, completely forgot I had her in the car but it only took me about 2 minutes. When I get home, I park and start my daily routine of picking up all the toys and bikes on the driveway, go inside the house, use the restroom, turn on the computer, while my baby girl was in the car. It must have taken me at least 15 minutes to realize she wasn't upstairs sleeping with daddy but rather in the car in a very hot August morning. When I ran outside she was covered in sweat and tears, but alive, crying so bad that it still haunts me. That careless mistake couldve distroyed my life.

nonmember avatar Kristy F.

This is what I am trying to do about this problem. Please see my campaign View at Stop Little Ones From Dying In Hot Cars Thanks for looking, if you can please pass along to someone special Let's see if we can save a life.
Kristy F.

nonmember avatar bwhism

Lol Venae! REALLY? ! Has nothing to do with race. But let me guess....your black?

nonmember avatar Cole Lopez

This happens a lot more than people would like to think.... its terrifying to think that it could happen to us. There is a product out there that alerts you if you have unintentionally left you toddler in the car. It's called Childminder and who knows whom it may save

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