Tuesday a 14-month-old little boy died after he was left in a car for seven
hours in 90-degree heat. This happened in Chattanooga. The father (who left him
in the car) is an upstanding citizen with four children. This is a tragedy that
I cannot seem to let go of. It lingers in the air around me like humidity. I
can’t shake the feeling that it could have been me.
could have been that father who left his baby in the car. I could have been
talking on my cell phone while I dropped my three older children off at school
and completely forgotten about the baby asleep in his car seat behind me. I
could have gone to work and pushed the button on my car keys four times to
silence the ultra-sensitive alarm, not knowing all the while that it was the
motion sensor alarm triggered by my child’s movements. I could be facing
criminal charges right now. I could be mourning the loss of my precious baby,
wondering what he went through in that car for seven hours in 90-degree
weather. It could have been me. That child could be mine.
have parked in the Wal-Mart parking lot, gotten out of my car and closed all of
my doors before I remembered that my daughter was asleep in the backseat. I
never did it when I had just one child but I have done it twice since having
two. I leave my son at home or at a friend’s house and take my daughter with me
on whatever errand I have to run. She falls asleep and I am so accustomed to
noise and incessant talking when children are in the car that I forget, just
for a second or two, that I am not the only passenger. It’s scary. I know
that I am not the only person who has done this. Anyone with multiple children
has probably forgotten their sleeping child for a second or two, whether they
will admit it or not.
feel deep sorrow for this family and their loss. I cannot imagine what they are
going through. I realize that the father made a horrible, irreversible
mistake and is most certainly guilty of criminal negligence but I think his
loss and grief are enough of a punishment. Taking him away from his family will
accomplish nothing. We need to refrain from cell-phone use in the car and
remember how quiet and peaceful a car ride can be when a child is asleep.
Always check and recheck your car seats when you exit the vehicle, even when it
seems ridiculous to do so. This is a lesson that no one should have to learn
the hard way.