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Baby Dies in Hot Car

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A 4-month-old boy was pronounced dead yesterday evening after his father accidentally left him in a locked car all day. Here's why it happens -- and how it can be prevented.

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It feels like we keep hearing the same story over and over -- a helpless child or baby was left behind in a hot car to die.

A 4-month-old boy was pronounced dead at a hospital Monday evening after his father accidentally left him in a car at a California train station, said a spokesman for the transit system. He was supposed to drop the baby off at daycare on the way to the station, but somehow forgot. The baby's mother went to the station to look for him at 5:30 PM when she discovered he wasn't at the daycare.

Last summer, we did a roundup of children who had died in hot cars. It happens way more often than you'd think.

- August 21 - University professor Dr. Jodie Edwards, who has a doctorate in counseling, accidentally left her 11-month-old daughter in her car seat in the rear of her Honda Odyssey when she reported to work at about 8:30 AM. Baby Jenna was discovered by her mother when she left work at about 4:30 PM. When police responded to Edwards' 911 call, they found the little girl dead in the car seat. Hear the heart-breaking 911 call here.

- August 19 - A 4-year-old boy locked himself in the family car for up to four hours and died. The boy informed his mother he was going to visit his father, who was working in the workshop on the property that was approximately 100 yards away from the home. Police say that at some point after visiting with his father, the boy told his father he was going back to the house to see his mother. Both parents thought the other one was with him, but the boy had locked himself in the family car. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

- August 17 - Jan and Chris Starr (an assistant pastor) were returning to their home from church with their four children Sunday when they accidentally left their 15-month-old daughter asleep in the van for three hours.

- August 14 - 3-year-old Cameron Boone -- who died when he was left inside a pickup truck -- tried to save himself from the sweltering heat. Investigators said Boone got out of his car seat, found an extra key, and tried to put it in the ignition, to no avail. Cameron's mother was supposed to drop off her son at day care around 6 AM before heading to work at the hospital where she was an operating room technician -- but forgot. Detectives said the mother arrived at work at 6:30 AM and did not realize her son was in the truck until her shift was over at 3:30 PM -- but he was already dead. 

- August 13 - An unidentified 3-year-old boy died after he was left in a locked car for more than 10 hours. A family member was supposed to drop the child off at day care but forgot. She arrived at work at 7:30 AM, and did not discover her mistake until she pulled out at 5:45 PM and saw the boy's lifeless body still strapped in his car seat.

- July 27 - 14-month-old Markus Anthony Lewis of Texas was left in the car for an hour after coming home from a local water park. His mother thought the father had taken him out of the car with their other two children, and his father thought the mother had.

- July 24 - 4-month-old Seiaires McHenry of Wisconsin was found dead in an SUV outside a day care center, apparently left unattended by an employee of the center who picked him up that morning. He was left in the car for over seven hours.

- July 21 - 19-month-old Kamilla Brown of Texas was left in her day care van for six hours before she was discovered. State licensing officials later shut down that day care center.

- July 21 - 23-month-old Jack Winchester of California was left in his car after his mother took him and his two siblings grocery shopping. She thought the other two children were watching him while she unpacked groceries. He was left in the car for several hours.

- July 19 - 4-year-old Gregory Cesar of Florida was left in the car on his mother's wedding day while she got her hair and nails done. She thought a friend had taken him, but he had snuck back in the car. He was left there for more than two hours.

- July 13 - 18-month-old Alyssa Stouffer of Michigan was left strapped in her car seat in the driveway of her home in near 90-degree temperatures. The father accidentally left the baby in the truck after running an errand. The baby wasn't discovered until mother Laura Stouffer, 26, returned home from work late in the afternoon and couldn't find her child.

- July 13 - 2-year-old Angel Castillo of Texas was accidentally left in a hot car by his uncle, who was taking him and other young relatives to swim at his apartment complex's pool. The uncle told the children to get out through the passenger side and to hold hands as they walked to the apartment, but Angel remained in the car, unnoticed, for over an hour. 

- July 8 - 2-year-old Chase Harrison of Virginia, who had been adopted from Russia just two months prior, was left in a car in front of his father's workplace after the dad forgot to drop him off at day care before work. He was trapped in the car for nine hours.

- July 8 - 3-month-old Faith Nichols of Tennessee was left in a hot car in a parking lot while her mother drank and hung out at two bars. The newborn was left in the car for six hours.

- July 3 - 2-year-old Andrew Culpepper of Virginia was picked up from a relative's house by his father, but his dad forgot to bring him inside the house when they got home. It is unknown how many hours he was locked inside the car.

- June 27 - 2-year-old Amariya Danikels and her sister Kassandra, 19 months, of North Carolina died after trapping themselves in a neighbor's car for at least a half hour. They had been playing outside with their 4-year-old brother when they climbed into the unlocked car and were unable to get out.

- June 17 - 6-month-old Daniel Scott Hadley of Utah died after his mom went to a friend's house and accidentally left him in the car for two hours.

- June 14 - 3-year-old Rakala McLaughlin of South Carolina and her four siblings were visiting their aunt and uncle when she snuck off to play in a car. By the time she was discovered an unspecified amount of time later, she was dead.

- June 10 - 6-month-old Nicholas McCorkle of Pennsylvania died when his grandfather forgot to drop him off at day care on his way to work. He accidentally left him in the car for six hours.

- June 8 - 4-year-old Jason Rimer of Nevada, who had special needs, died when his family forgot him in a car after a family outing. He wasn't discovered by his parents or seven siblings until the next morning. He was trapped in the sweltering vehicle for 17 hours.

According to Janette Fennell, founder and president of Kids and Cars, a national nonprofit group that advocates for child safety, roughly 36 infants and children die annually in the U.S. from being trapped in hot cars. 22 children have died already this year.

How can a parent forget their child? "Everyone thinks these parents are bad or strung out on drugs, but parents who've lost their kids in these types of accidents include pediatricians, doctors, school principals, lawyers, and NASA engineers," she says. "For the most part, these are highly educated, extremely loving and doting parents."

She says these accidents have little to do with how good a parent is, and everything to do with how a memory functions -- or doesn't function. "In the early 90s, these cases were rare. But then, in the mid-90s, front passenger airbags were installed in cars and there was a huge campaign to get kids to move to the backseat. An unintended consequence of this was kids dying of hyperthermia in cars -- because children were out of sight, out of mind."

In many of the cases, forgotten children are under the age of 1 in rear-facing car seats. Their parents are not sleeping much, which comes into play. "And in an overwhelming majority of cases, there has been a change in routine," Fennell explains.

She says the biggest mistake parents can make is thinking this cannot happen to them. "That's what these parents probably thought, too," she says. Fennell shares three ways to help prevent these deadly accidents:

1. Starting today, put a teddy bear or stuffed animal in your child's car seat. When your child is in his or her car seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat as a visual reminder your child is in the backseat.

2. Keep your lunch bag, employee badge, or purse in the backseat. That way, you'll always reach into your backseat or open your back door when you arrive at your destination.

3. Have an ironclad policy with your day-care provider that if your child does not show up, that person will call a provided list of contacts to confirm his or her whereabouts. "In so many cases, if the day-care provider would have called, tragedy could have been averted," says Fennell.

Kids and Cars is working hard to pass legislation that would require auto makers to install weight-recognition sensors in cars that would alert parents who've left their kids in the backseat. "We won't give up until it's passed, because it would save countless lives," Fennell concludes.

What do you think of parents who've left kids in cars? Was it a tragic accident or the result of just plain neglect?

Comedians Frangela, writer Jackie Morgan Macdougall, and a then-pregnant Garcelle Beauvais Nilon got together to discuss this disturbing, recurring problem. Watch the video below to hear what they had to say.


play video moms discuss babies in hot cars


next: I've Lost 20 Pounds Since He Left Me!
103 comments so far | Post a comment now
Ana June 10, 2009, 11:24 AM

I just don’t get it. i’m a mom to a 7 1/2 month old and i could NEVER forget he’s in the car regardless of how stressed or busy i am. If i left with him I come home with him! I just cannot imagine “forgetting” that my son was in the car.. its pure and simple carelessness and disregard for a human life especially one created by you on the part of these parents!

DeLores Estis June 10, 2009, 11:27 AM

August 13, 2008

Christian Charles LaCombe, My son… was the unidentified 3 year old boy, found after my mother forgot to drop him off at daycare… 10 hours later.

Natalie June 10, 2009, 2:30 PM

DeLoris,
I’m so very sorry. my heart breaks for you and your loss.

Mother-Thinker June 10, 2009, 3:52 PM

What’s sad to me is that on top of the sheer agony these parents and other caregivers have to live with, there is such horrible judgment from people like some of these other posters. Accidents happen — tragic, horrific, senseless accidents!

Charles June 10, 2009, 7:19 PM

Accidents don’t “happen,” they are caused by inattentiveness. By being deliberate in your actions, especially when caring for a little one whose very life depends on you, accidents can be prevented. I’m not perfect, I make mistakes, but I don’t make “accidents” and I NEVER forget my children. Even when they are not with me they are always foremost in my mind.

Mother-Thinker June 10, 2009, 7:34 PM

Charles, how lovely for you that you are exempt from what makes us all human — the propensity to make mistakes.

Perfect, sanctimonious people are my favorite kind.


marissa June 13, 2009, 2:59 PM

Well at least the mother that forgot the kid outside the van was lucky enough to receive only the “scum of the earth” look. Cause she deserved. It will be stuck in her mind for the rest of their life, luckily as a reminder to be a better mother, and never ever forget that she decided to have 4 kids. Is your decision, is your responsibility 24/7 to remember them. Or what do you think, that being a mom is just pop them out of your body. No Excuses… there is no excuse.. hurry.. stress.. nothing.. is unforgivable, is a shame that is not punishable, cause I am sure, It will be at the top of the list in there many stressful daily responsibilities.

Vanessa Crawford June 13, 2009, 5:06 PM

It’s hard for me to buy the fact that “we’re just not sleeping enough” or “doctors,professors, etc have done this too”. There is NO excuse for leaving your child in the car. When my child says she’s going wtih her father, I make sure she’s going with her father.When i get out of my car (even if my kids arent with me) I think about them, because they are pictured in my mind every minute, i live for them…. this is just so heartbreaking, especially the story about the three year old that got out of his car seat and found an extra key, he was so close to getting out of his death trap… Sad that the three year old, under such heat, can think about finding that extra key, even though his mother couldnt even think about him for a second… I’m so fed up wtih these stories.

Anonymous June 15, 2009, 10:47 PM

I dont think its a matter of forgetting your child so much as its a matter of thinking you dropped the child off. When my daughter was born i had arrived at work and upon checking the backseat found her sleeping or just sitting their quietly. I was in such a routine that i thought i had dropped her off already. I became paranoid about forgetting her so i developed a habit of checking the backseat every time i leave the car and i dont lock my doors. These days people are expected to do so much and stretch themselves so thin that they just dont operate the same, they work on autopilot and the slightest change in routine or following the same exact routine all the time can be damaging. Now i check the back seat all the time, when i am driving and when i am not because sometimes my kids are just so quiet i feel like im forgetting something. I could not end up leaving my kids now a days because of my checking all the time especially when leaving the car but i feel for those who dont think about it. it was being told of these stories when pregnant with my son that got me started and now i just check out of habit to not become one of these parents.

Bodyc June 21, 2009, 3:43 AM

I have already seen it somethere…

Twanna August 6, 2009, 3:46 PM

There is absolutely no excuse for leaving your child in a car. They should be locked in a hot car for hours on end so that they can witness firsthand the suffering that these poor children had to endure.

Bambi August 8, 2009, 7:09 AM

Except for the cases where the children locked themselves in the car, the parents in these stories seem very self-absorbed and not conscious of what they’re doing, like mindless drones.

Mory September 11, 2009, 11:59 AM

This stories are so sad, but who are we to judge this people???. I’m a mother of 5 and I’m only 29 years old. I had my first daughter when I was 18 I have never forgotten any of my children but I surely understand what this parents went through. Having kids and going to work, getting out of your routine can absolutly make you forget things. Unfortunatly this cases includes babies, I’m so sorry for this parents, grandparents they have to remember this all their life…I’m so sorry…RIP babies.

AJ April 9, 2010, 5:43 PM

Oh, get off your high horses, everyone. Don’t you think every mother who this happened to has said that before? I mean, it’s not a bunch of drug addicts and bad mothers doing this - one of the moms had a PhD in counseling. Another was a surgeon. Even a former prosecutor. Do you really mean to tell me that your child is at the very forefront of your mind every second of every day? “Hm, it’s almost the 1st of the month, let’s see what… OH MY GOD WHERE’S BABY DILLON? Okay, we have the mortgage for $2,800, car payment—wait, is our car insurance due yet? Did I get an expiration notice from State Farm—OH MY GOD WHERE’S MY BABY? Let’s see, we just finished our car payments, but we both upgraded to smartphone plans—OH MY GOD WHERE’S MY BABY?” Please. Don’t act like someone who doesn’t fill every second with thoughts of their children 24/7 love their children less. Accidents happen. I cannot imagine it happening to me, no, and I’m hard-pressed to think it could ever happen to me or anyone I know, but I’m not going to get on my high horse just because some tragedy did not happen to me. It’s easy to go on autopilot. If you’re in a situation where you’re very stressed, like from work pressures or marital problems or financial worries, do some of you really think you are completely immune just because, as some of you make it sound, you just simply love your kids more? These families deserve our sympathy, not finger-pointing. I believe the moms in this article serve a purpose of awareness that this could happen to anyone, the author didn’t write about these moms so you could declare how you could never forget about your kids.

WD April 25, 2010, 1:52 AM

I think people are just using stress as an excuse for being irresponsible parents. First thing I learn is never rely on the other person having your child. I can lose my job, my life, but not my child.
Once she sneak out of the fence and snuck into my car, and it was a warm day. But as soon as I found out she not insight I look for her right away. No way I would let my kid out of my sight. Especially, at such a young age.

James LaCombe May 20, 2010, 8:43 PM

I am Christian’s Father. I’ve heard it from the stone throwers and the one’s who forgive everyone. I believe everyone has a right to what they say, but not everyone is right in what they say. I’m not here to defend or accuse Deedee’s mother. I’m hear to help inform others, that this does happen. It happens to good people and it happens to the not so great. I’ve seen first hand what can happen. I’ve suffered the lost of my first born son threw something I didn’t do. If anyone has any right to judge someone over this it should be myself and deedee. I’m not here to judge, I would rather help inform the public about this danger in our everyday lives. For those who truly forget about their children I can only try to educate before it can happen again. Since the passing of my son, my ex-wife DeLores and I have both worked hard on making this issue more well known. Delores and I may not always see eye to eye, but this is something we both have a drive for. People are human, and I don’t believe I could ever forget my child in a car, But I know there are many parents out there that have said the same only to turn around and lose a loved one. Don’t say it can never happen. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you are above everyone that does. I promise it only takes one time and the world will change for you. I’m glad you have never forgot your child anywhere. I pray you never do, because I never want another parent to suffer as I have. If you want to learn more about Christian’s legacy visit us at www.nokidsincars.com where you can find links to deedee’s work as well. Before you judge someone, just take a moment to consider everything you are going to say, and if you still feel strongly about it, then please do so. Right or wrong you have a voice. James LaCombe

Angela May 21, 2010, 2:28 PM

Come on people I became a mom at the age of 15, I worked and went to school, but one thing I can promise is that even at that age my child was constantly on my mind! I was a mom to 3 by the age of 20 and there again I have never ever for 1 second forgot that I have a children! To this day even when they are in school and they are 11,12 and 14 I am constantly checking they back seat of my car!

THERE IS NO EXCUSE WHATSOEVER WHY A CHILD SHOULD EVER BE LEFT IN A CAR!

AW June 12, 2010, 4:12 PM

As a worry wart I could never forget about leaving my kids on accident. They’re always on my mind. I did at one time leave my child once for a few minutes to cash a bank check, the car still running, I for some reason thought she was going to be stuck in there because of the keyless entry remote that was still in the car. By some miracle the car was unlocked. It hurts me when my child gets hurt, which is the reason for me being so over protective of them all the time. Just becareful if you have little ones who could lock things, for you should have a key with you at all times. Once I left the apartment to dispose of trash, which was just right outside, I came back in to a locked slider door, which my daughter did unknowingly. She was under 2 years at the time. I tried to get her to unlock to no avail. I went to see the apartment manager who was not there. I went back to try have her unlock the door again, still no luck. Finally I was able to get the extra key from the manager, then ofcourse my daughter unlocked the door at that time. It was funny in a way, but it was scary just the same. Your kids should always be on your mind, so forgetting them is not an excuse. You shouldn’t depend on the law or someone else for your irresponsibility. Do not blame on the day care unless it is their doing.

Pathetic Excuses July 16, 2010, 8:37 AM

LOL at all the idiots on here making excuses for these obviously UNFIT, self-obsessed ‘parents’, who clearly should be sterilised.
Nobody who ISN’T self-obsessed could EVER forget where their child is, at ANY TIME.
Your pathetic excuses are convincing nobody. Would I be right in guessing that the vast majority of ‘parents’ in these cases are THIRD WORLDERS?
(And no, citing me ONE case of a white ‘parent’ does not negate the word MAJORITY in the previous sentence, left wing douchebags.)

Golf September 21, 2010, 12:41 AM

Certainly interestin specifics. Im happy I located this article. Many thanks for sharing


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