Thursday, May 3, 2007

A Local Tragedy

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.


  1. This story breaks my heart. I can not imagine losing a child especially not like in this case where it is the parent's fault. I pray that they recover emotionaly. I would imagine it would be sooo hard on the wife to forgive the father. I myself would have a hard time not taking my grief out on Paul and it ending our marriage if we God forbide went through something like this. I feel so sorry for them.

  2. Tonight I put two and two together and realized that one of the other children in this family is on my daughter's soccer team. I'm not 100% certain, but about 99.9%. My husband is the coach of the team, so we know most of the kids pretty well. That realization drives home the fact that this family is really no different than mine. They are probably very much like us in many ways---carting kids here and there from one activity to another, trying to balance family and work, etc. I have times when I do something stupid or forget something important too--but I thank God that my mistakes have never produced consequences even remotely close to these. This father made a terrible terrible mistake and it has cost him an unimaginable price. It all just really makes you think. You just can't be too careful when it comes to protecting your children. I'm with you Melinda...I'm not sure my marriage or I personally could survive a tragedy such as this.

  3. Jacquelyn-
    It sure hits close to home when you have some connection to the person doesn't it? The geographical proximity alone makes it extra painful.

  4. That same week a friend of the family lost their little girl (3). They had an accident just down the road from us. They hit head on w/ another vehicle. Their vehicle flipped, the little girl was crushed. The mother couldn't get her out of the carset. Ever since then I have been a litte on edge. I know I can't live my life in fear, but life can go in a blink of an eye. I drive this road often and see the lines on the road. Apparently the other car, the young man said he looked down, looking something and went over the line?
    I am really working on not doing a lot when driving and slowing down.
    Anyway, said 2 little kids in one week. :(