2-Year-Old Gets in Accident After Being Left Alone in Running Car

What is going on these days with parents leaving young children unattended in cars? Yet another dad, this time from Connecticut, is in custody and is being charged with risk of injury to a minor after he left his 2-year-old daughter alone in his idling car while he stepped out. We aren't sure yet of the circumstances surrounding this incident -- including where dad went and how long he was gone -- but this story has an unfortunate twist: the child was somehow able to either wiggle out of her car seat or, if she wasn't in one, stretch over to the front seat to shift the vehicle into drive, striking two parked cars.

Oscar Chicas, who is 33, is being held on $15,000 bond. His daughter is, thank God, not hurt and is currently staying with an uncle while dad deals with his legal issues. The toddler caused minor damage to the cars she hit. It's unknown whether dad or a bystander stepped in to retrieve the little girl and stop the car from moving.

When we were younger, I remember my mom leaving my brother and me in the car for five or so minutes while she stepped out to buy milk at a store. But my brother is four years my senior and she didn't take this risk until I was at least 7 or 8. I would argue that even seems too young nowadays. You just can never be sure that your young children are safe alone in a car. There are too many things that can happen.

They can become curious -- hey, kids naturally are -- and experiment with the various buttons and switches on your car. They may want to sit up at the steering wheel just for a minute to feel the sensation of moving that wheel. If they accidentally move their elbows just slightly in one direction, they can easily set the car into drive. It isn't impossible to fathom how this could happen.

In the case of really small children, like toddlers or babies, I'm almost more able to understand how parents could think it would be okay to leave them alone for a few seconds. I'm not talking about moms and dads who do insane things like leave their children in hot cars so they can have sex or to go shopping for 25 minutes. But I'm sure there are times when otherwise responsible parents remember they left their keys in someone's house or inside a store and dash back and forth from car to site of keys before anyone can blink an eye. In that moment, they're probably thinking: Babies don't move. Toddlers are, usually, strapped into their car seats, RIGHT? What could happen?

Ugh, the truth is -- this could happen. An active toddler could shift the car into drive and cause a whole lot more trouble than, fortunately, what came out of this incident. Anyone who considers leaving their young child in a car by himself for even a few minutes should think twice.

What do you think of this incident? Have you or would you ever leave your young child in a car alone?


Image via brownpau/Flickr

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nonmember avatar Camie

When I was about that age, my mother got my newborn brother out of the van and handed my older brother the diaper bag to carry. I wanted to carry something so she handed me the keys. Then, when she was turning back to get me, my brother slammed the door closed. I wouldn't unlock the door because I had been getting in trouble for that. By the time a neighbor came and jimmied the lock, I had put the keys in the ignition turned on the radio and the wipers, put the car in neutral and it had started down the driveway.
It can happen even under the best of circumstances.

nonmember avatar Cassandra

"What is going on THESE days with parents leaving children unattended in cars?"
Umm Lisa, parents have been doing this forever. It's happening less now than it dd in the 80's that's for sure! This is not new. It's stupid but it's not new.

Autumn Williamson

I don't know about your car, but I cannot put my car into drive without pushing the brake pedal first. 


ashle... ashleysmommy123

Most cars you can't put into drive, but you can put them into neutral....which I have done myself as well as my dog.

nonmember avatar Mamaof2boys

If the child had been properly restrained in a 5 point harness car seat then this couldn't have happened. Kids need to remain in a 5 point until at lease 5.5-6.5 years old when they're mature enough to sit still in a booster seat. My 2.5 year old still rides in a 5 point and I'm so glad he does because there is no way I could ever convince him to not bounce all over the car while I'm driving. I wish people took this kind of stuff more seriously. Check out Car Seats For Littles on Facebook, a great resource for parents and care givers to keep children safe in the car.

nonmember avatar Youallareridicu

@mommaof2boys the 5 point restraint system is not relevant. My daughter (also 2.5 yrs of age) can take off her 5 point restraint and does so despite my husband and myself disciplining her when she does. So it's not necessarily because the child wasn't fully secured when the father left. however, I agree children shouldn't be left in a car with a running engine or to, as well. But come on We all know children will be children and it's our responsibility as parents to protect them. Also I find it hard to believe that a child can reach the brake pedal and the shifter at the same time "just by chance". Children are sponges and pick up on the simplest things we do. They figure out how to do stuff we never showed them to do just by observing (and they observe EVERYTHING). We just need to be more careful and stop constantly assuming or putting blame on other parents "bad judgements"... Stuff like this or things similar could happen to anyone.. Tired of the" holier than thou complex" ppl seem to have anymore

nonmember avatar Steviefae324

I would like to know how she was able to move the shifter, because you can't move mine at all without pushing on the brakes. And it's the same way in everyone elses car that I have driven. And being two years old there is no way she could have done both at the same time or even knew how to without instructions on how to do so.

MaMa.Lu MaMa.Lu

This happened to me while I was a child. My mom had stepped out of the car to grab something from the trunk ( I was young, don't remember the details) But I also somehow shifted the car into gear and my mom had to chase after the car with me in it. Luckily she wasn't too far away so she was able to jump in and stop the car. Sh*t happens. 

Dolce... Dolcepsle

Yeah right the 2 yr old put it in drive. IMPOSSIBLE. Maybe she bumped it into neutral and it was on an incline.

nonmember avatar me

I was routinely left in a car for long periods, like an h or so, while my mom did groceries etc. I bet more kids were left in their cars before 90s than now. You just hear of it more because of internet.

I do occasionally tell my kids to get out and start buckling in while I grab the last few things on my way out the door.

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