CHASE HARRISON – ANOTHER FORGOTTEN CHILD LEFT TO DIE IN A HOT VEHICLE
Chase Harrison was 21 months old when he died a horrific death after being forgotten in a hot vehicle for nine hours by his father, Miles Harrison.
On the morning of July 8, 2008, Miles Harrison dressed his son Chase, put sunscreen on the little man and strapped him into his car seat to take him to day care. Chase, however, never made it.
On the way to work, Miles Harrison stopped at a dry cleaner, leaving Chase in the vehicle while he ran in. He then headed back out on the road to work. During the drive to work, Harrison made or received 13 calls on his cell phone, in the midst of his distractions with a large work project and problems with his employees, he missed the exit for Chase’s day care, and in doing so, sentenced his son to die strapped into the car seat Harrison had lovingly placed him in less than an hour before. At 7:30AM, Harrison arrived at work and forgot entirely about his son. The heat reached 90 degrees that day, and little Chase stood no chance against the pain and trauma the heat forced upon his body. At 5:00PM some coworkers noticed Chase in the vehicle, but it was far beyond too late, Chase died hours before due to heat stroke.
Miles Harrison was charged with involuntary manslaughter, and was later acquitted of all charges. Harrison waived his right to a jury trial, so the decision to acquit lay solely with the judge. The proceedings throughout the trial were emotionally charged, Harrison often sobbed and his pain was clearly evident.
Chase Harrison was adopted by Miles and Carol Harrison less than 3 months before his death. Originally from Russia, the couple made three different trips to finally bring their son home from the Russian orphanage. They fought to bring Chase home for a very long time, and honestly folks, that is part of what makes this SO much harder for me to forgive. The simple truth is that the irony of this tragedy will forever remain that little tick in the back of your mind when talking about Chase’s case. A father that fought SO passionately to find his son and bring him home, forgets him a short three months later resulting in the child’s death … it is unsettling. It’s not something one can make sense of, some things just don’t make sense.
There are some Russians who have taken this adoption aspect and drug it to an entirely different level though. Years after Chase’s death and Harrison’s acquittal, the case remains very much alive in Russia. Now before I go further, I want to make it very clearly that I do not agree with how Russia sees this case, nor do I agree with their belief of how this reflects on the Russian people. Russians (not all, but enough) feel that Chase’s death equates to disrespecting Russia and have made and taken some exceptionally irrational, offensive and concerning comments and actions in direct result to Chase’s death.
After Harrison’s acquittal, Russian federal prosecutors opened an investigation into Chase’s death (something they do not have the jurisdiction or authority to do) and called to restrict or end the adoption of Russian children by Americans. Tatyana Yakevleva, the first deputy chief of the pro-Kremlin United Russian party remarked “When we give our children to the West and they die, for some reason the West always tells us it was just an accident. It’s hard to believe.” It gets even crazier and more revolting. The Russian Foreign Ministry stated “Serious doubts arise as to the legitimacy of the practice of transferring our children for adoption to a country where their rights, primarily the right to life, turn out to be unprotected. In the United States punishment is absent for those guilty of such tragedies on, apparently, the sole ground that they are ‘full-fledged’ citizens, whereas their adoptees are not.” (Banging my head into a brick wall here.) At a public hearing in the lower house of Parliament, Speaker Boris Gryzlov declared himself ‘indignant’ (Banging my head harder …) and stated that foreigners want Russian children because they are “genetically smarter and healthier.” I don’t even know where to go with that, so let’s talk about the Dima Yakovlev Law.
The Dima Yakovlev Law (named from Chase’s Russian birth name) is a law in Russia which defines sanctions against American citizens involved in violations of the human rights and freedoms of Russian citizens. What this law has done is created a list of citizens who are banned from entering Russia and banned from adopting children from Russia. It also allows the Russian government to freeze the citizens assets and investments, and suspends the activity of politically active Russian non-profit organizations which receive money from American citizens or organizations.
First to all Russians that felt this was a symbol of disrespect or taken any less seriously because the child was a Russian citizen, get over yourselves and wake the hell up. This is the death of a child – not a malicious act done to spit in the face of all Russians. Harrison’s acquittal has NOTHING to do with the fact that Chase was born a Russian citizen, and in reality, there are FAR more parents that have done the same thing Harrison did to their American born children that have never even faced charges! I am not even American and I am offended and frustrated with the lack of intelligence and common sense that is being shown. For crying out loud – this world will never change the way we handle these matters when there are adults in power prancing around like monkeys in suits making a child’s death a political weapon and personal attack. How these Russian politicians can believe this is doing anything to honor the memory of the life of a beautiful, perfect little boy is beyond me. If you make the choice to speak in Chase’s name, especially in such a public forum – do it with integrity and love – anything less is unforgivable. (AGAIN, I know that not all Russian’s hold these beliefs and I am not intending to blanket everyone with the statements of a few.)
I have no question as to whether Miles Harrison loved his son, I can say with complete confidence that he loved him, absolutely adored him. I know that he is hurting and that this will be something he is forced to live with for the rest of his life. However, that does not mean he should be absolved of his negligence that caused Chase’s death. Harrison needs to be held accountable for that negligence and a clear message needed to be sent that we as a society are not willing to accept these deaths as simple accidents. Simply forgetting is not a good enough excuse to explain the brutal end of a child’s life. Being sorry, does not release you of your culpability in a child’s death and being sorry does not change the fact that the death of a child was 100% reckless and preventable. If I were to be in WalMart, picking up a carton of milk, when I received a call from work that took my attention away from why I was in WalMart, and if I were to walk out of that store, missing the checkouts, carrying the milk in plain sight, I would be charged with theft – being sorry for doing it, it being an accident, completely non-intentional, would not make it any less of a crime. If this happens in this world, forgetful folks walking distractedly out of WalMart without paying for that milk being charged with a crime and being found guilty – how the HELL can we forgive the act of forgetting a child in a hot car to essentially cook from the inside out, dying in horrific pain and fear as a simple accident that should not carry any legal ramifications.
A carton of milk worth more than the life of a child. This is what we have come to.
~ by LTWH on July 31, 2014.