Every summer, tragic news of the death of a child left in a hot car bewilders parents and caregivers alike. This preventable tragedy is far too common—there have been seven hot car related deaths in 2012 alone—and the summer is far from over. For one Louisiana father whose 11-month-old son fell victim to this fate Monday, this already horrific accident could mean prosecution and possible jail time.
It has been confirmed that the outside temperature reached upwards of 99 degrees, meaning that the inside of the car was significantly higher. The father didn’t realize his mistake until the day care center called asking where his son was. He immediately rushed to his car and brought the child to a hospital where it was too late. In addition to living with the guilt of this accident, which certainly may be punishment enough, he might be placed behind bars.
According to the San Francisco State University Department of Geosciences, 80% of recorded “child vehicular hyperthermia deaths” are attributed to the child either “forgotten” by a caregiver, or the child playing in an unattended vehicle. The statistics speak for themselves, as most deaths are the unintentional result of a change in routine or an oversight gone wrong, not premeditated murder.
This instance is not the first of this summer—and unfortunately it probably won’t be the last—but it raises the important question of accountability in these types of horrifying accidents. It also serves as a reminder for how easily this can occur. Visit kidsandcars.org for safety and prevention tips.
How do you feel about leaving a child in the car, even for a quick errand? Should this father be held responsible for the accidental death of his child?