Firefighter Who Left Baby in Hot Car Proves It Can Happen to the Best of Parents

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Summer is almost over, but it’s still very hot, and unfortunately this means “hot car deaths” are still happening to kids around the U.S. The most recent case, involving the death of a 23-month-old boy in Florida, is particularly tragic: his father is a firefighter, and though his job is to save lives, he accidentally ended his own son’s when he forgot the sleeping boy was in his truck.

According to a spokesman for the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, firefighter Troy Whitaker took his 5-year-old daughter to school, but then, after his toddler son fell asleep in the back of his truck, he forgot to drop him off at daycare. By the time Whitaker discovered his mistake nearly eight hours later, it was too late; though Whitaker tried to perform CPR, his son was already gone.

CNN reports that Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the boy was in the truck from about 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and that Whitaker discovered him after a trip to the grocery store.

“It was evident that he didn’t realize that the child was in the backseat until he arrived home from Publix,” Gualtieri said. “He was taking the groceries out of the front passenger seat and immediately dropped the bags — there are groceries all over the driveway — and then went and took the child out of the car seat.”

“As you can imagine, he was extremely upset — visibly upset,” he added.

To add to this tragedy, even though this was obviously a mistake, Whitaker was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter. I can only imagine that living with the knowledge that you had caused the death of your own child is more punishment than the law could ever mete out.

I’ve written these articles over and over again, and will continue to do so—not to spread a garish news story, but to remind parents of young, not-yet-verbal children who fall asleep in the car, that this can happen to ANYONE, even a loving parent who is also a professional life saver.

Be AWARE, and take CARE moms and dads! Use the Waze app’s child reminder notification or devise your own trick for reminding yourself to ALWAYS make sure you’ve got your kids out of the car!

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Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.