Don't Forget Your Kids In The Car, Tragic & Preventable Deaths

Managing Real Estate Broker with Coldwell Banker Realty VA #0225181914

I took a look through my Facebook feed this morning, and there was a headline that sunk my heart, "Twin babies die after being left in hot car, father charged."  There are not a lot of details about the circumstances in which it happened, yet, but they will come out in the days and weeks to follow. Was it a case of deliberate neglect or did he simply forget they were there? 


According to Kids And Cars, approximately 37 children die after being trapped in a hot car each year. Since 1990, at least 775 deaths have occurred. It only takes minutes for a child's core temperature to reach 105 degrees. Have you ever been in a vehicle with no air conditioning, or sat in one with the windows open? It gets hot very quickly. 


Sadly, two stories like this have touched me. In 2007, a family from church's 21-month-old toddler died after being left in their van for 7 hours. The mother was out of the country, and the father was overwhelmed, being left in charge of their 13 children. He assumed an older child was caring for the baby. In 2011, my veterinarian's two-year-old son died after being left in a van for 7 hours when she forgot to drop him off at daycare before going to work. Both were tragic mistakes. 


Years ago I read an article in The Washington Post magazine that really stuck with me. It is heartbreaking, but when you read it you understand it can happen to anyone. I've raised three babies myself, and used to think, "I could have never done that." The sad part is, maybe I'm wrong. I remember going to take my daughter out of a car seat many years ago and becoming frantic because she wasn't there. Our routine had changed that morning, but my autopilot had kicked in as soon as I parked and I had forgotten. I've driven away from the house many times over the years only to go back to double check I had turned off the iron or the curling iron because doing it was so routine that I simply didn't remember doing it. 


I was never the lucky mom to have kids sleep through the night. For about 6 years of my life, I never had an uninterrupted night of sleep. Physical and mental fatigue caught up to me frequently. I was fortunate to either not be working or to have a job that did not require drop offs at a daycare center, but many people have different scenarios. Lack of sleep has a huge toll on memory, concentration, reasoning, and judgment, which is cited as a cause of this type of accident. 


Unfortunately, there are stories that make headlines of true child endangerment and neglect as parents have left their children in cars to shop, work, socialize, and to engage in illicit activities, but that's another topic altogether.



I've seen reminders on the doors of businesses not to leave pets in hot cars, and it always sparks social outrage when it happens. I've only seen one sign that reminds people not to leave their children in the car. These incidents are so clearly preventable, but the issue usually only makes press when there is a fatality. Education is so important for parents, and some type of reminder system should be in place to ensure this doesn't happen. Leaving a purse or cell phone in the back seat with a child forces the driver to check. The 2017 GMC Acadia will have a reminder system in the vehicle. Having a daycare provider call if a child fails to show is another. I'd like to see businesses remind people about their kids in the same way they do their pets. Parents with young children who seem harried, distracted, exhausted, and overwhelmed could also use support in some way, and maybe more lives will not end in a tragic and preventable way. 


Kids And Cars

Posted by

Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

Branch Vice President

Coldwell Banker Realty

Woodbridge, VA


You know that joke, "My mind is like my web browser. 19 tabs are open, 3 are frozen and I have no idea where the music is coming from"? - yeah, that's me. So many thoughts and ideas I need a place to write them down since no one will give me my own reality tv show. I am passionately addicted to helping others achieve success. I'm out to change the world one happy person at a time by sharing my knowledge, my heart, and my sense of humor each and every day.

Comments (13)

Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude


These stories are so tragic, and there have been a few of them already. The one the other day was about a mother who went of shoppiing and forgot her baby in the car - fortunately in this case someone discovered it and the baby survived.


Aug 05, 2016 01:44 AM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

Glad there was a happy ending!

Aug 06, 2016 11:19 PM
Belinda Spillman
Aspen Lane Real Estate Colorful Colorado - Aurora, CO
Colorado Living!

That is so sad.  What is wrong th people. 

Aug 05, 2016 01:48 AM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

It is awful.

Aug 06, 2016 11:19 PM
John Meussner
Mortgages in AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, GA, MD, MN, MT, NC, NJ, NV, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WI - Fair Oaks, CA
#MortgageMadeEasy Fair Oaks, CA 484-680-4852

So sad and unnecessary.  People are too overburdened with things that in the end aren't important, and unfortunately, it takes away from remembering the MOST important things sometimes.

Aug 05, 2016 05:37 AM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

I think you're right. All the tools and devices we use to make our lives easier contribute to the "mind clutter" that makes it so easy to be distracted and forget.

Aug 06, 2016 11:20 PM
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Eighteen Years Experience in Brevard County

It is tragic. I have thought many times how I could not do that but I wonder now.  Tragic does not suffice.

Aug 05, 2016 05:47 AM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

No. Just heartwrenching. I don't know how people can move on.

Aug 06, 2016 11:21 PM
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce

How thoughtless....and most probably not intentional with such devastating consequences !

Aug 06, 2016 11:19 PM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

Yes, unfathomable.

Aug 06, 2016 11:21 PM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

This is a timely  reminder as we face the hot days of August.

Have an outstanding week.

Aug 07, 2016 09:16 PM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

You, too!

Aug 10, 2016 11:30 PM
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster Real Estate - Gainesville, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

There was one of these incidents in our neighborhood several years ago.  Tragic, like all those in the article.  You can't begin to imagine what the parent who forgot the child is going through.   

There are certainly ways of making it less likely you will forget.  Leave a post-it note in the car if the child is with you that day.  Leave reminders on your phone.  Anything, as silly as it may seem, to keep this tragic deaths from growing in number.

Aug 08, 2016 08:38 AM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

I think we are talking about the same incident. It does sound silly to have reminders, but I'll bet not one of these poor parents ever thought it would happen to them.

Aug 10, 2016 11:31 PM
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of the Manchester NH's area Leading Agents

Even in a rush i dont think i could forget my kid in the car. Every day is hectic but when you have a kid or kids or pets even, you have a duty to be extra responsible Chrissi Chapman Topoleski 

Aug 10, 2016 10:48 AM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

I agree, but can see how in some cases this could happen. Very tragic.

Aug 10, 2016 11:32 PM
Debbie Reynolds, C21 Platinum Properties
Platinum Properties- (931)771-9070 - Clarksville, TN
The Dedicated Clarksville TN Realtor-(931)320-6730

It seems like something like this happens every summer. It is always so sad to hear of these senseless deaths happening.

Aug 10, 2016 11:27 AM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

Unfortunately it makes news more often than it should.

Aug 10, 2016 11:33 PM
Debbie Reynolds, C21 Platinum Properties
Platinum Properties- (931)771-9070 - Clarksville, TN
The Dedicated Clarksville TN Realtor-(931)320-6730

BTW Chrissi, thank you for following my blog. It means a lot to me.

Aug 10, 2016 11:28 AM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

I'm sorry it took so long! I thought I already was!

Aug 10, 2016 11:33 PM
Robert Vegas Bob Swetz
Las Vegas, NV

Hello Chrissi

This is so very sad and this happens quite often in Las Vegas and I just don't know how and why anyone would ever leave their children and or pets in their cars period? 

Aug 21, 2016 05:43 AM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

I think I've read about 4 more that have made news since I wrote this. Makes me so sad. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Aug 21, 2016 11:28 PM
Jane Peters
Home Jane Realty - Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles real estate concierge services

There is absolutely no excuse for this. It is unforgiveable.

Aug 22, 2016 09:48 AM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

There was another story this week with a happy ending. A man broke a window to get a 4 month old out. The mother came back with two other kids...she had been shopping. Completely unforgivable and stupid.

Sep 01, 2016 11:39 PM
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

Beyond tragic events, and those people have to live with that too.

Aug 25, 2016 12:42 PM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski

For those who truly erred I can't imagine living with it.

Sep 01, 2016 11:39 PM