Toddler Dies After Being Left in Locked Vehicle for Eight Hours

Illustration for article titled Toddler Dies After Being Left in Locked Vehicle for Eight Hours

A toddler died in his car seat today after an Atlanta man accidentally left him in a locked vehicle for eight hours. Authorities allege that the temperature in the car could have reached up to 130 degrees.


The child's father was supposed to drop him off at day care at 9am this morning, but according to reports he forgot that the child was in the car, drove to work, then locked the child inside the vehicle. For whatever reason he didn't check the back seat, nor notice that the 22-month-old was still restrained in his car seat.

When the father returned eight hours later, he began driving home, only to notice that the toddler, now unresponsive, was still in the back seat. A witness says that the father parked in a nearby shopping mall — straddling two lines of traffic— and tried to resuscitate the chid. He pulled him out of the car seat and laid him on the ground where he unsuccessfully attempted to perform CPR.

Several people stopped to help the father, who the witness claims has been shouting "what have I done? What have I done?" throughout the ordeal. When police arrived at the scene, the father had to be restrained due to his distress. He was taken in for questioning, but no charges have been filed. He could face charges of involuntary manslaughter.

The heat in Atlanta on Wednesday reached 90 degrees. Police estimate that the heat inside the car could have easily reached 130 to 140 degrees during the day.

Stories of parents leaving their children in the car are not uncommon, but the last time this type of story made the news, the child had been left alone for only several minutes. The fact that this father forgot about his child for eight hours is both terrifying and a reminder to make sure to check the car for kids before leaving the vehicle unattended.


Image via Eyewitness News



I can't imagine the unbearable pain the father is in. Unfortunately, its not something that happens due to negligence, it's more due to how our brains can go into "autopilot" and forget seemingly important things. I wish we could figure out a fool proof way to stop it from happening, some sort of censor that might alert the vehicle owner or police.

And it's worth saying, this is *not* the same scenario as the other story. Intentionally leaving your child in the car on a temperate day while you check out at Walgreen's is not the same as forgetting your child in a closed up car on a hot day. Completely different, it would be like comparing shaken baby syndrome to playing airplane with a toddler.