Saturday, August 25, 2012

Leaving a child in the car.

Post written in June 2012.
Never fails, every summer, you hear about a poor innocent child being left in the car. Every summer, a mother or father "forgets." Every summer, a parent claims "I thought they'd be okay." Every summer, these people get arrested, plea to the judge, and then receive their child back.

And sometimes? That child is no longer alive to get back. And often times? Those people serve no time. Their only punishment? Knowing their child suffered because of them. Although that right there would be the worst life sentence of all.

So how does it happen? How do parents just forget. You see, I'm not saying it doesn't exist. That these parents didn't just make a terrible mistake and something in their brain was off that day. I'm just trying to understand it so that maybe we can prevent it from happening in the future. I have watched two live court cases on TV, and watched it from beginning to end. I watched one father who was being charged after the death of his 5 month old that he had forgotten was in the car. That man... I tell you what... cried like I've never seen a man cry. Through the whole case. And it wasn't the I'm-scared-to-go-to-jail-tears, it was the genuine I-just-lost-my-child-and-it-was-my-fault-tears. Honestly, I know he was a good father. I know it was just a really unfortunate situation. Surprisingly? He got 20 years. Yes. Even I? Was shocked. Because shortly before that? I saw a mother, no emotion what-so-ever walk free from the same exact situation.

Is it a mother versus father thing? Not sure. But I believe that if we are going to throw around this forget theory... then who is to say that one forgot more than the other? Both were equally as guilty no? But then again both did in fact get the same life sentence. That being without their child. And like I said before, that's the worst punishment of all.

At the end of the day though, I do believe that there are those who truly just make a mistake. Do I understand it? No. Doesn't mean that it doesn't happen. Just means I can't wrap my head around it. And that's okay, because I don't have to understand it to realize that there is a dangerous trend here summer after summer.

You see, I can go on for hours about how mind boggling all this can be. I can't tell you I understand one bit of it, because I've never been there. And so, I can't say what those people were going through or what happened that day. I do know this though, there is a worse scenario out there. And that being?

The mother {or father} who purposefully leaves her child in her car. I repeat. On purpose. You see, this whole post was evoked when I had read a story of a lady {in my town} who left her 11 month old in the car, when it was 100 degrees out. She... hold on to your seats... rolled down the windows... and then? Proceeded to go shopping.

I imagine that a shopper walked by, heard the child crying, and then called the police. When the police arrested her, she just claimed that she thought the child would be "okay." O-K-A-Y. Please. Tell me how anything about leaving a child strapped into a car in 100 degree weather {120 in the actual car} makes it OKAY. Let me answer that for you. Nothing.

20 minutes prior? She did the same thing at another store. A woman called the cops. But as she is on the phone with the cops, the woman approaches her car and drives away. Do the police proceed? No. Because? "No harm was done." Except. Harm was done. Because she went to the next door to do the exact same thing. Lucky that there are witnesses to catch her each and every time... but that isn't always the case. So why let her go?

She's not the only one. Another woman left her daughter with the car running. Okay. So great, we are providing air. But what about someone kidnapping your child? Do we not care about that?

Another said she just wanted to go to the job fair. Another thought it wasn't too warm in the car. Another this. Another that. There are always excuses.

Yet it happens. Year after year. Summer after summer. What do we do to stop this? Why is this happening so often? What, as a society, are we doing wrong?

I don't have those answers, and unfortunately, I don't have the power to get into the minds of these people, to prevent all this from happening, to get the child in the car.

These children are literally strapped into a death zone. And it's preventable. Do we design cars differently? Do we make stricter laws? Do we broadcast these stories through all social media outlets to reach as many people as possible?

It's not the people who forget about their child and have to live with the worst pain and memory for the rest of their lives. It's these people who purposefully neglect their child. And? They are the ones that get a slap on the wrist.  But both scenarios are scary. Both scenarios involve an innocent child fighting for their life. Thus, something needs to be done.

Something. Anything. If anything... just talking about it. Making it known. Passing the stories to our neighbors. Speaking out about it. For these children.


  1. I heard about that story, it really makes me sick that she can just go shopping and pretend that her child doesn't matter. I just cannot imagine it. I know that sometimes as a mom I need to get away, I need time to breath, but at the expense of my child? NO WAY . It's absolutely insane.

  2. These stories irate me. I'm a mama in the making (16 weeks pregnant) and I don't understand how you can just forget you brought your child with you.

    There was a guy a few towns over from mine who was working on his car and left his daughter in there with no windows down, no ac, no nothing. His response was, "I figured she'd cry if she got too hot." She was four months old.

    People piss me off sometimes.

  3. I agree with everything you wrote!!
    A recent case in my town a lady left her 6 month old in the car to go shopping, she's in jail for 3 years now. Chip is ok.
    Not sure If its long enough/not long enough, but it's punishment!
    I am looking in me rear view mirror constantly checking on my daughter when driving and talking to her, handing her new toys/books. So I have no idea how I could 'forget' she was with me. Or how any patent could. I even stressed about her being rear facing and not getting enough air while driving because of how hot it got this summer! and that's while im in the car with her, not out of it.

  4. I accidentally locked my baby and my keys in the car one day a few years ago, thank God it was a cool cloudy day. The second I shut the door and realized I had just locked myseld out I started bawling, I was so sleep deprived it just happened. So there's a part of me that understands mistakes can happen, but I've never made that mistake again. My kids are the most important things in the world to me and while I waited for my husband to come with the extra set of keys (we lived behind the store I was at so he was faster than calling the fire department even)I never left my car. Luckily he slept through the whole thing. I feel for parents who make a mistake that costs them their child's life but I have no compassion for someone who did this repeatedly. Pure selfishness.

  5. I will never understand this either, granted I always have my kids with me so there's no way I could forget. But still.. These people doing it on purpose just blow me away!!

  6. We've had similar cases near us. In one case, the parent whO left the child in the car was a doctor. Intelligent person obviously. Another was a father who forgot to drop off the baby at daycare and went to work. I've heard it can happen when the routine is not normal- different parent dropping child off, etc. I think that some cases speak to the fact that we are just too darn busy. Too rushed. Very sad.

  7. Very well said. I agree with it all. I am sure there are actually cases where the parent truly forgets. But it doesn't make me understand it. And I feel for them.

    But the ones that do it on purpose I'm all for leaving in a car when it's a 120 degrees.

    I had not heard about the woman you mentioned that went shopping. And that's just so sad. Breaks my heart.

  8. Breaks. My. Heart. I can't even get myself to think about what the children go through without wanting to just cry. You are so right Becky, something needs to be done. Word of mouth is so important and people need to be scared of this scenerio. I heard about that man you were referring to, and my heart goes out to him. I can only imagine that if in the back of his mind he was afraid of ever accidentally hurting or killing his child by leaving her in the car, that he wouldn't have done it. People need to be afraid of it. I know I am.
    Not to get all religious here but the only thing that comforts me about it is I believe that God is hugging and loving these children as they return to him after such a horrific tragedy and in situations where it is an honest mistake? The parents will be reunited with their beloved children again and assure those children that they are indeed loved and the parents are so. sorry.

    I wasn't sure I wanted to read this blog post just because it arouses such sad feelings in my heart, but I'm glad I did. You are right. It needs to be talked about.

  9. I agree! I saw a woman on Oprah who did that and she said she simply got caught up in being super mom, and thought she dropped her child off at daycare. That could happen to anyone! But people who do it on purpose just wow! Really? I'm scared to death to leave mine in the car while I run in and grab my keys from the house!

  10. I agree with you on every level. A lady from my hometown had a 13 month old son who she 'forgot' was in the car when she got called into work one day. She said she thought she dropped him off at daycare and because he was so tired she didn't realize she never dropped him off. Personally, in that situation I feel like daycares should call if they expect you and you don't show up and as the parent I always make sure to put my stuff in the backseat so I have to open the back doors. It breaks my heart everytime I hear a story like this, who just leaves their kid in the car to go shopping. Take them with you, drop them off with a sitter, or don't go shopping!

  11. When I was preggers with my first, my biggest fear was that I would forget him in the car. The summer I had him, you heard story after story about kids dying for this and it is so sad!!! Although I have never forgotten he was there it was a fear I had for a long time! It's such a tragedy!

  12. This just happened in Nashville, but the mother was horrible and probably did it on purpose. Two children, dead. I can't even imagine the pain those poor babies went through. I've never heard a story make me so sick to my stomach.

    When a parent truly forgets and is remorseful? I can't understand it but there needs to be some compassion for those folks. A difference for the ones that are fit parents who made an awful mistake versus those who are harming children. Justice is blind, I guess. So so tragic.

    And moving right along to things that top my list of how to piss me off, is the parents who leave their child in the car with it running. How would you feel if you came out and your car AND YOUR CHILD were gone?!? It may be a pain to take them out to only run in for one little item, but it will never be worth it. Do it in front of me and you'll either get an earful or the cops called!

  13. Stuff like that really hits a spot in me that sets me off. No one should be allowed to have a child if they seem to think that it would be ok to do that! I could never leave my child in a condition like that. I know if I need me time away I will just ask our parents our friends to keep her & they would just to give us time but never once would we ever summit our child to that cruel doing. I think that lady needs to spend the rest of her days in a damn cell & never be able to see her child ever again!

  14. I'm glad someone else is as bothered by these situations as I am. There was a story in Nashville recently where a mother of 4 dropped her oldest children off at school and returned home... and when she arrived to pick up her 5 month old from daycare that afternoon and was told he had never been dropped off, she ran back out to her car to find him dead in the back of her van. They had to sedate her on scene and take her straight to a psych hospital.
    I replay stories like this over and over in my head. I always wonder if I would ever be busy enough to be guilty of such a horrible mistake. But the women (and men) who knowingly leave their children in hot cars to bake? I would personally stone them in the street. Ridiculous.

  15. Gene Weingarten wrote an amazing article for the Washington Post about this several years ago, and it gets republished every year in our area - he won several awards and I highly recommend reading. I actually know a woman this happened to. She was my vet, an awesome person, and incredible mom. I cry every time I think about what she did, and what she has to live with. It is also my biggest fear as a mother. When my routine is changed, I often drive the wrong place, forget important things, etc. Thank god it hasn't happened to me...

  16. However? Deliberately leaving a child in a hot car is attempted murder as far as I'm concerned, and should be charged as such.

  17. I don't understand it either. To leave your child in the car on purpose is just wrong. Not only could it be baking hot but what if someone took the child? I don't get it. The only time I leave my kids in the car is if I'm walking 2-3 feet away to pay for gas, other that I take them with me. I actually know someone who left her kids (who are so not old enough) in the car while she went grocery shopping and luckily my mom seen the kids and waited until their mom came out.

  18. I love this post. You are very right. how can people do that? how can you forget that you're baby or kid is in the back? or think that he or she would be fine waiting? How? If you make the choice of going out, you have to take the baby too! Omg this makes me so angry! I don't know how some moms can forget or think its okay... . Children are a beautiful miracle take care of them!!! -Great post -

  19. I couldn't agree more! I bawl like a baby anytime a story of a child is left in the car is released. It honestly disgusts me. We had a story...I believe just a few weeks ago, about a lady here in utah leaving her toddler in the car while she was shopping "just for a minute". I think if this is an on purpose situation it should be a case of child endangerment.

  20. In my state it is illegal to leave your child unattended in a car! I know many people who had to deal with cps for this reason. Working in a peds clinic sure opened my eyes to alot of bad parenting!

  21. In my state it is illegal to leave your child unattended in a car! I know many people who had to deal with cps for this reason. Working in a peds clinic sure opened my eyes to alot of bad parenting!

  22. These stories just break my heart every time.

  23. These stories just break my heart every time.

  24. My husband and I were talking about this same thing the other day. I just can't wrap my mind around "forgetting" my child in the car. There is absolutely nothing going on in my life that is more important than my children. And leaving them in the car - there's NO WAY that that could ever happen.

    Like you said though - I haven't been there, so I'm can't provide anything but an opinion on the subject.

    I won't even get started on the parents who willingly and knowingly neglect their children - especially considering I would do ANYTHING to have my child back. The thought of these parents pisses me off beyond anything I've ever seen!

  25. One of the professors from my school had this happen to her a couple a few years ago. She is an incredibly intelligent woman, very intentional mother, not over-scheduled, and made a genuine, very life-changing mistake.

    In her article describing the details of that day, she says, "My hope in sharing our story is that you will realize that the only way to prevent this type of tragic loss is to believe it could also happen to you." I loved her article and found it very sobering and humbling.


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