If you read one article this week, let it be “Fatal Distraction.”

I don’t have much time to really sit down and blog this week, but what I’m going to do is cheat a little right now.

****WARNING: You probably don’t want to read this at work or anywhere you don’t feel comfortable crying or have access to tissues.****

THIS article, this heartbreakingdestroying story of so many parent’s grief and guilt, this tragic tale of loss and forgetfulness, is worth every single minute it will take you to read it from beginning to end. And do not skip from one point to the next. No, all these stories deserve to be heard and all these cautionary tales need to be told.

It is graphic, and it is so sad you will want to close your browser and be done with it all, to stick your fingers in your ears (or cover your eyes) and say “La, la, la…. not to me… never happen to me… puppies and rainbows and kittens!” But DON’T.

It’s coming up on that time of year again. It was in the 80’s here today. It’s so easy to sit here and say, “I would NEVER forget my baby in the car,” but judgement doesn’t make you immune to accidents and temporary lapses in memory.

This piece, “Fatal Distraction,” by Gene Weingarten ran in the Washington Post last March (2009) and was just awarded a Pulitzer Prize. I tell you, it is worth every minute, every word, every gut wrenching scroll down of the mouse.

Kiss your babies extra tonight. That’s where I’m headed.

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  1. I read it.
    You’re right – a reminder can never be a bad thing when it comes to your children.
    Thanks for sharing. I forwarded it to my husband and every parent in my contact list.

  2. This just happened here a few weeks ago to a teacher at the school next to the one I work at. An educated, caring father, who apparently got so wrapped up in his day to day happenings with work that he forgot his daughter. In fact, it happens every year here in our area (S Florida). It is one of my greatest fears. I now keep my purse and belongings in the back seat so that I am forced to check back there before I get out of the car. I more worry about when other people are taking Luke in their car. Breaks my heart.

  3. Jill,
    First, I want to thank you for sharing. I can’t imagine forgetting my child in the back seat! I can see how it can happen though. Too much on the brain, causes terrible things to happen. It is bone chilling to think of what these poor people find when they actually realize that they left their child in the car, and come to the car to find them dead! Ugh! Shannon

  4. I’ve referred people to that article often — especially since it happened here in Austin this past summer and the man was just sentenced.

    The article really opens your eyes.

  5. I cannot even imagine. Although in my mind I’m saying I could never forget Lucy, I’m going to start leaving my purse in the back of my car like the above poster said… just because I’m sure all those people in that story would have thought the exact same thing, that it could never happen to them.

    Thank you for sharing Jill, I’ll link this post to my own blog later…

    • Thank you for sharing. I am crying over here. Although I can’t imagine leaving my son in my car, I leave my work bag in the back seat. Therefore, once I get to work, I have to go back there. I also never take phone calls or do meetings on the drive to daycare. I don’t want to be distracted with my son in the car. My son is my priority, everything else can wait.

  6. Chase was in the preschool class at my son’s school. It’s SO heartbreaking but it DOES happen to normal, wonderful parents.

    Wonderful reminder, thank you!

  7. I honestly could just hate you for posting this. I never made it past the first page and I was sobbing so uncontrollably my husband came in and finished the article. And while I hate you, I also commend you for posting it. And I thank you. It’s something so tragic and senseless and it needs to be talked about more so this doesn’t happen!

    {And I don’t really hate you… but, you know.=)}

  8. I sobbed through every word.

    I am “that” lady who, when I see children left in a car, circles the car and calls the police.

    Sadly, the police are, without exception, uninterested.

    No shockingly, the parents, when they notice me (sometimes 20 minutes after I have been circling their car, with their child inside, sometimes with a window down, sometimes with me interacting with this child), come out screaming that I am a nosey bitch, I need to get a life, their child/baby/toddler is fine, they are going to “kick my ass”, etc…

    Every summer we hear (in southern California) of at least one child that has died in the car while the parent “just ran in the store”. Everyone is horrified, the police state to call them immediately if you see it, parents are shocked.

    And yet when I see it, the reaction isn’t good.

    If this ever happens to anyone reading this, please understand that the person is worried about a child. If something were to happen to that child and the stranger went about their business because “they didn’t want to get involved” or “the police weren’t worried”, can you imagine the tragedy? The outpouring of hate for that person?

  9. Thank you for sharing this article. I was crying and had knots in my stomach the whole time, but it is definitely worth reading.

    I think it’s so hard to read because the people in this article are not “bad” parents. They are parents just like us. So scary.

    Definitely worth of the Pulitzer.

  10. Thank you for posting this. I am still crying and will be sharing this article in every way I know how. The line about how if you can forget your cellphone, you can forget your child got to me – it would be devestatingly easy to do and I have no idea how I would manage if I forgot my kids in the car.

  11. That was an amazing article, and one that I felt nothing but anger toward the offending parents throughout, and sympathy and sorrow for those babies that died. The line where the woman talked about the child pulling all her hair out before she died? I literally almost vomited. My stomach lurched and I looked down at my sleeping 12 week old in my arms and I wanted to throw up.

    I’m not having the same views as a lot of your other commenters. This article was amazingly written, and I think it’s very important to bring stories like this forward so parents can become hypervigilant and aware of their children. I am going to say the thing that hundreds of other parents have said: This could NEVER happen to me. And I know that a bunch of people who were in this article said the same thing, but THIS. COULD. NEVER. HAPPEN. TO. ME.

    This article made me angry. And sad. And sick. I feel bad for the parents who did these things. I’m not going to say “who this happened to” because it’s not like it was some random catastrophic event. They left their children in hot cars until they DIED. The one woman who stated that it felt like “God had taken her child away from her while she was at the peak of happiness” made me want to scream. It’s not like that baby died of cancer, or of SIDs, or of anything else that couldn’t have been prevented. SHE left her baby in that car. God didn’t leave that baby in her car. SHE DID.

    My opinion may not be popular, and people may shake their head at me and say, “Never say never” in regards to my statement that it could never happen to me. I stand by it. And no, these people aren’t bad people or parents. But they also aren’t victims of some horrible accident that couldn’t have been prevented.

    • Natalie, I appreciate what you’re feeling, I really really do, but quite honestly, it’s people like you that scare the hell out of me. It’s exactly people like you that would do something like this, please open your mind a little bit to the possibility and take heed, it could truly happen to anyone. Like someone else said, how many times have you arrived somewhere and not remembered how you got there? No matter how hard we try, we all make stupid stupid mistakes sometimes, unfortunately some with far more tragic consequences than others.

    • I COMPLETELY agree with you. I felt nauseated and sad for those poor defenseless children, and simply empty for the parents that did this. It seemed to me that Lyn did not even show any remorse. I cannot imagine any of this.

      This may sound cruel, but i also do not understand more regulations and gadgets to prevent this. Perhaps public service announcements and more vigilance would be more effective. Many here have already stated preventative measures (staying off the cell phone in the car, mirrors, always throwing your bag in the back seat, etc.)

  12. Oprah did a show about this a while back. I couldn’t finish watching it – so heartbreaking. I can totally see how this could happen to a loving parent. Would be great if auto manufactures could implement those devices that alert parents. I would 100% be onboard with purchasing that feature.

  13. Okay, the timing of your post could not be more cryptic, creepy, and downright disturbing.

    I just got home from Target. My MIL is here every Wednesday to watch the boys while I go to school, but today I decided to run to Target to pick some things up before I left for school. The boys stayed home with her, of course.

    BUT – as I was getting ready to pull out of the parking lot, I thought I heard Julesy say something in the backseat, and complete terror washed over me as I thought for just a second I had lost my mind and brought him with me and forgotten him in the backseat of the sweltering car.

    Of course, he was not with me. But then my brain went on a guilt-induced daymare of the ways in which I would have to remove myself from this planet if I ever did something so fatally absent-minded as to cause death to one of my precious babies.

    For once, I’m not crying – I want to throw up. I can’t imagine what made you post this today, or what made me have that panic attack at the same moment you were posting this, but the coincidence is far too timely to not cause me some serious questioning over whether the universe was trying to warn me of something. I think it’s telling me “Stop doing this much, stop stressing out, stop the forgetfulness, stop the distraction — or else.”

  14. Meanwhile, 250,000 children were seriously injured in car accidents in 2008. It’s estimated that 80% of carseats are installed correctly, and very few people are aware that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children stay REARFACING in their carseats to the maximum limits of the carseat. The average carseat on the market rearfaces to 35lbs, with some going to 40 and 45lbs.

  15. This is one of my biggest fears. I know people say “this could NEVER happen to me,” but I know I’ve forgotten things, especially when stressed. I’m forever afraid that it could be my daughter one day. That fear is probably a good thing, helping to remind me. This article is absolutely heartbreaking.

  16. That was very difficult to read. I cannot even imagine how these parents begin to go on with their lives. I literally don’t think I’d be able to function. I find myself in a mad rush and often forget things like cell phone, an extra diaper, wipes, the stroller..etc. which now scares the hell out of me. Reading this really makes me want to slow down and pay more attention to what I’m doing.

  17. I read this last year and I was crying so hard I was sobbing. I told my daycare provider to call me if at any time they are not sure my son is supposed to be there… because I don’t believe I’m “above” doing something like that. I can’t imagine it, but I can see how it could happen. Devastating, and I still cry thinking about those parents. I know I would never be able to live with that kind of guilt, and my heart breaks for them.

  18. This is hands-down my number one fear in my life. I’m not a bad mother or a bad person. But I know it could happen to me if it could happen to anyone. I don’t take my son to day care, my husband does that since it’s on his way. In fact, my son rarely even rides in my car, we take the other one when he’s with us. Still, from time to time I have nauseating panic moments that he was in the car with me.

    I sent this to my husband yesterday, and last night he told me he went outside to check the car after he read it.

    I am one of those people who feels for the parents as well as the babies. The torment they must feel, it’s unimaginable. No it’s not a lightning strike sort of accident, it’s a car wreck sort of accident – one that really could happen to anyone given the wrong circumstances.

  19. Pingback: Judgement Doesn’t Make You Fail-Proof – On Babies Left In Hot Cars

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