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Kids Left in Cars

This column won’t make you laugh. In fact, if you even crack a grin, then I’ve done something wrong. But I have to talk about this issue because it haunts me, and I need to believe some good will come from airing it.

Every year in this country, about 20 infants and young children die after being accidentally left in a car. Not left for 30 minutes while a frazzled mom runs into a Walmart. Not left for an hour while a delinquent dad ducks into a bar. Those are just bad decisions: deliberate and ill-advised.

I mean left for hours upon hours in a closed-up car, where temperatures can climb to 125 degrees, by otherwise responsible but disastrously distracted parents who forget that their baby is strapped in the backseat and so get out of their vehicles and go blithely about their lives while their child suffers heatstroke and dies alone.

It’s horrific. Gut-twistingly, skull-throbbingly unthinkable. Yet it happens all the time. It happened to babies in Virginia and Maryland over the Fourth of July weekend. It sounds like something that only happens to soft-headed imbeciles unfit to reproduce. But it’s happened over the years to a college professor, a cop, a rocket scientist, a clergyman, a nurse, a social worker, a pediatrician… It happens to protective parents who put foam bumpers on every sharp corner in their home and organized parents who start college funds while their babies are still in utero.

I know because it happened to me.

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