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

by Jeanne Sager on May 4, 2012 at 2:29 PM

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

Filed Under: crime, death, accidents

Comments

80
  • lisas...
    --

    lisasuel1

    May 4, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    As a single mom, I have forgotten things.  I have forgotten lunch for him, but luckily, I could pay online.  I have forgotten that I needed clean socks for in the morning.  I have forgotten to buy milk.  I have forgotten that his father picked him up from school or kindergarten for the weekend and showed up at daycare looking for him.  Many times I have had to make sure to turn and check to make sure my son was not still in the car when I got to work because of the number of things that have gone through my mind.


  • Mrs.K...
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    Mrs.Kubalabuku

    May 4, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    Like lisasuel1, I always do a double take at the backseat of my car out of paranoia...Did I REALLY drop him off?!

    My prayers to the family, I can't even imagine what that father must be going through!


  • angie
    -- Nonmember comment from

    angie

    May 4, 2012 at 3:38 PM
    didn't he notice the baby when he drove home? i think that makes it worse that he actually got back in the truck and didn't notice the baby
  • Lilac
    -- Nonmember comment from

    Lilac

    May 4, 2012 at 3:38 PM
    I've never understood how anyone could forget there child is in the car.
  • shani
    -- Nonmember comment from

    shani

    May 4, 2012 at 4:20 PM
    Thank goodness I had a friend with twin's who said to me when my son was just two months old, "you will forget something sooner or later, it doesn't make you a bad mom, it just makes you human." After that she told me a story about getting home from the mall and realizing that while her kids were in their car seats they hadn't been strapped in. Because of that story I was constantly checking my son, and still do to this day. He's almost four now and will even say to me, "I like to be buckled in tight mama." This story is sad because as Jeanne said it really could happen to anyone. I've never forgotten my child in the car or not buckled him in, but I can see how it could happen, and I cross my finger's and pray it never happen's again to anyone else.
  • Boobo...
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    Boobookittt74

    May 4, 2012 at 4:22 PM
    I have forgotten my kids WEREN'T in the car with me. Cuz they always are. So I guess in theory I maybe could somehow forget one day but that's so tragic that poor baby.
  • Mocha...
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    MochaCocoaBean

    May 4, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    If you think that as a parent, this could never be you: IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU. You need to read this article Fatal Distraction: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/27/AR2009022701549.html

     


  • Michele
    -- Nonmember comment from

    Michele

    May 4, 2012 at 5:26 PM
    I agree with MochaCocoaBean. Read that article. Please
  • Krist...
    -- Facebook comment from

    Kristie Reeves-cavaliero

    May 4, 2012 at 5:46 PM
    My heart goes out to this family as well as the family in Missouri who lost their child on the same day due to this horrible danger to child passenger safety. We lost our precious one year old the same way nearly a year ago---my heart just breaks for these families. Please, everyone, don't rush to judgment on these families about what they should and shouldnt have done as parents. Just shower them with love and compassion during this devastating time for them. Life as they know it has just been forever shattered.
  • Jmsosa
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    Jmsosa

    May 4, 2012 at 6:04 PM
    This is one of my biggest fears, so I'm extra cautious. I have really bad ADHD that I can't take meds for b/c I'm breastfeeding. While I was pregnant, I forgot my dogs in the car for about ten minutes. I went to unlock the house and got distracted. I freaked out so much b/c these are two dogs who bark. If I could forget them, how easily would I forget a sleeping baby. Now, I live with those thoughts in my head, so I don't forget.
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