In a couple of earlier entries your Charleston child injury lawyers have discussed the serious dangers of leaving children alone in the car during the hot summer months. The earliest post covered the sad circumstance when parents simply forget they have the kids in the car, as well as organizations trying to gain awareness to this very real possibility. And at the end of July, there was an entry posted concerning the legal ramifications and criminal charges for those parents, guardians, and caretakers who intentionally leave their kids in the car while they run errands, or do some other activity. Most recently, your experienced attorneys at Howell Law came across a story that falls somewhere in between the previous two entries.
According to the Post and Courier, prosecutors in Columbia determined there was not enough evidence to charge the father of 9-month-old baby boy who died after being left in a hot car for four hours outside an apartment complex on Father’s Day. According to the report, the National Weather Service said the high temperature that day was 98 degrees.
As it was mentioned in the first post covering kids and hot cars, last year there were 49 instances of children dying from being left in a car, and after a bit of research, there have been 22 cases this year. While many parents or guardians may read or hear about these instances and think they are clear cut cases of gross negligence, the fact is that these unfortunate, serious accidents can happen to even the best parents. Think for a moment how often you have forgotten your cell phone, wallet, or other personal item in the car, not to say that a child can be compared to these “things,” but the point is that the modern parent has so much on their mind that it becomes easy to be forgetful.
Since the Post and Courier’s article on the most recent incident involving the 9-month-old boy was just a small blurb, your Charleston car accident lawyers decided to research the episode further to see if the events leading up to the infant’s death. As it turns out, one could reason that circumstances surrounding the wrongful death can be attributed to today’s parent being over stressed and under rested due to current society requiring moms and dads to be multi-tasking-super-parents.
According to one article, the father in this incident had just gotten off working the night shift when the infant’s mother needed him to take her to work, and after returning home for four hours a frantic phone call came because no one in the family could locate the young child. The father went out to the car to find his son and immediately dialed 911. From that account, it seems likely that the dad and mom were focused on being off of work and getting to work, respectively, and forgot that the child was in the car.
It couldn’t be found in any of the reports, but it would be beneficial to know which direction the child’s car seat was facing, because experts say that since the dawn of airbags and the move of children to the backseat into rear-facing car seats, the number of children left in hot cars has increased dramatically. And who knows, the child may have been sound asleep when the father pulled into the family’s apartment complex, not only making the infant unseen (if in a rear-facing car seat), but also unheard.
In regards to the potential criminal charges the father was facing, it seems prosecutors felt there were too many variables coupled with little to no evidence of unlawful conduct, granting the father reprieve. And while looking at the opinions voiced in the comments below reports on a few news outlets’ reports, the general consensus is outrage to the absence of legal ramifications, not too dissimilar to the response of the Casey Anthony verdict last month. Across the board, child injury and death is a sensitive issue that gains a large amount of media attention and can create serious public backlash when alleged wrongdoers escape punishment.