HOT TOPICS – FORGOTTEN CHILDREN DYING IN VEHICLES – ACCIDENT OR NEGLECT? ~ 09.07.2013
We all have come across those topics that flair tempers and heated debates. The conversation about topics such as child abuse sentencing guidelines, the use of polygraphs in missing child cases, children left to die in hot vehicles and safe surrender, etc, garner a wide range of opinions, views and beliefs, both for and against. These topics also inspire great passion and are often some of the most advocated movements in today’s society. These are the topics that have 2 very distinct sides, and each will defend their opinion and beliefs until the bitter end. While these topics can inflame emotional reactions, it is so vital that we continue to create dialogues surrounding them. Society is taking a turn, and we are beginning to acknowledge the horrific aspects in this world in the hopes that we can improve these situations and continue to better our communities. While these topics can garner a fair amount of controversy, and regardless of which side you are on, we are making a difference in engaging others to educate themselves, form their opinions and then advocate for what they feel is right. No great change comes without questioning or debate, so I personally believe that encouraging the debate, is the best thing we can do at this point in time to raise awareness to the plight.
With that said, every Saturday I will post a new ‘Hot Topic’ for the week. I encourage all to share all of their opinions and thoughts and to engage those around you in conversation surrounding the week’s topic. Be forewarned, there is going to be a great deal of disagreement, and a great deal of each side defending their position. This is OK – and even more so, it is what I HOPE for. There is nothing better to really get people thinking and talking, than a good debate. So please voice your opinion, as I will voice mine.
Let the conversation begin!
FORGOTTEN CHILDREN DYING IN VEHICLES – ACCIDENT OR NEGLECT?
Parents getting off of work, getting in their vehicles to head home for the evening, only to find the body of their young child who died an excruciating death while they were at work, simply because they ‘forgot’ to drop their precious baby off at day care. This seems to be the story that is in the headlines more and more often, especially in the past few years. And it also seems that more often than not the parents are torn apart with grief over these ‘accidents’ that could happen to anyone.
Accidents? As a mother myself, I can say that there has never been a time where I have ‘accidently’ forgotten my children in the car. I do not FORGET my children. Well these deaths are often not intentional on the parents part, they are the direct results of the parents actions, or lack thereof. I have a hard time labelling these as accidents, I see them as neglect.
To add to societies stand of accepting these tragedies as ‘accidents’, you can now can purchase a “ChildMinder.” The device, costing about $60.00, consists of a sensor pad placed under the cushion of a car seat, and is wirelessly linked to an alarm on the parent’s key chain. If the adult walks more than a few feet away from the car with the child still in the seat, the alarm will sound. Wow! What a great way to help a parent remember that they have a small human being with them! How have millions of parents managed to survive without this device before now?
In the past 10 years, almost 550 children have died in overheated cars, because the parents or other caretakers simply forgot them. Only about 7% of these sad deaths involved drugs or alcohol on the part of the adult. Most cases involved dentists, nurses, ministers, college professors, concert musicians, social services board members, NASA engineers…you know, the pillars of the community. These are the busy, self-involved folks always in a rush, for whom even dropping kids off at a day-care center instead of tending to the little ones themselves was too difficult an assignment.
Not only are these children left to die, they are left to die horrific, painful deaths. The interior temperature of a vehicle can rise 20 degrees in 10 minutes, continuing to rise as much as 50 degrees in one hour. A child’s body temperature warms at 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s. When hyperthermia starts to set in, the child becomes dizzy, disorientated, agitated, confused, sluggish. They may have seizures and their skin becomes dry and hot. Next their heart rate will rapidly increase and they may hallucinate. Imagine the terror an adult would feel experiencing these symptoms, now imagine the terror a small child would experience, all at the hands of those whose duty it was to protect and nurture that child.
Astonishingly, these parents and care givers, when prosecuted at all (and only 50% of them are prosecuted), receive only three to five year prison sentences. Also astonishing is how much “understanding” public support they get from those who say “It can happen to anyone.” No, it can’t happen to anyone.
It can happen only when parenting and family are not the highest priorities. It can happen only when parents spend their time focused on maximizing their own personal fulfillment at the expense – and very existence – of their children.
Here are some stories which made headlines after a child tragically died in a sweltering hot vehicle.
CAMERON THOMAS BOONE
Cameron’s death is one that shook me pretty hard. Probably because at the time of his death, my son, also named Cameron, was only a year older. I couldn’t, and still can’t read the details in Cameron’s case without picturing my amazing, beautiful son, and imaging what I would ever do if something happened to him, especially something as horrific as what happened to Cameron Thomas Boone.
Cameron was 3 years old when he died tragically on August 14, 2008, after being left in his mother’s vehicle, in sweltering heat, for 9 hours.
Cameron’s mother, Amanda Boone, drove to work her shift at North Cypress medical Center in Houston, Texas, as an operation room technician early that morning. When she arrived at 6:30AM and parked her truck, she forgot all about her sleeping 3 year old strapped in his car seat in the back seat who she had neglected to drop off at day care.
The temperature outside the truck reached a high of 94’ that day, which raised temperatures within the truck to 150’, possibly in as quick as 30 minutes. When the temperature in the truck began to rise, Cameron actually managed to free himself from his car seat in an attempt to escape the vehicle. This little man located a key and attempted to put it in the ignition mimicking what he had seen done a countless number of times in an effort to save his life. He was completely aware of what was happening and fought to survive until the very last second when his poor little body could take no more. Cameron’s last breaths were full of agonizing pain, and unimaginable horror.
When Cameron’s mother was finished her shift at 3:30 that afternoon she headed out to her truck. She attempted to unlock the truck via remote less key entry, but found it was not working. As she got closer wondering why her car remote wasn’t working, she saw her son, dead in the front seat. When she was unable to unlock the truck, she frantically took a rock and smashed out the back window, grabbing Cameron and running into the medical center with his lifeless body. She was too late to save her son, Cameron had died hours earlier.
The very fact that this incident occurred in the parking lot of a medical center makes me so much more angry over Cameron’s death. Why? Well my reasoning isn’t exactly logical, especially considering that there was security patrolling the lot who were prevented from seeing Cameron due to the tinting on his mother’s truck. I suppose it is simply because this happened essentially on the door step of a medical center where Cameron’s life could have been saved had someone noticed him in time. Just knowing how close he was to help makes the case all that much more worse for me.
Before his death Cameron lived a good life that was full of love and hope. He loved to play soccer and baseball with his friends. His favorite movie was “Cars”. He loved going to Chick-Fil-A and playing in the sandbox at Willie’s Ice house, always having onion rings, but never eating the batter, just the onion. He was a typical little boy, riding his bike until dark and going camping on the weekends. He loved visiting his grandparents and riding his Jeep Hurricane until it ran out of power. Cameron’s life was not void of joy and excitement, he was well taken care of loved by so many.
I know that there are many people that don’t hold Amanda Boone responsible for what happened to Cameron. However, this does ultimately come back to being her responsibility. There is no excuse EVER for a parent forgetting their child and in doing so causing their death. Should this have been anyone else such as a babysitter, you can guarantee that the parents would hold that person responsible, and that person would be criminally charged. So I ask why many think it is OK to not hold Cameron’s mother accountable. This is tragic, and heart breaking and troubling. Did Amanda love her son and care for him – ABSOLUTELY, but this cannot bring the little boy back from a death that was 100% avoidable. I know that Amanda will spend the rest of her life torn up from grief and guilt, and I know that this is a punishment that is a life sentence, but I can’t agree with not holding her criminally accountable just because she feels bad. If I am going to take the position that this is an epidemic that needs to be stopped, than I cannot excuse one amongst the many because I understand that she is not a bad person, and did not maliciously hurt her son. Had Amanda not forgotten her son that day, Cameron would be alive, happy and healthy. His death is a reckless, unwarranted loss, one that calls for the person responsible to be held accountable.
So I now ask you – what do you think. Should people who leave children in vehicles in sweltering heats leading to the child’s death be charged with murder? Do you believe there is ever an excuse for this to happen?