Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Law of Unintended Consequences Stikes Again

Yesterday saw three more cases of children left in cars here in Central Florida. In one case, a toddler died when her mother forgot that she had responsibility for the child that day.

A 22-month-old girl died after being left in the back seat of the car while the mother worked at Ocoee City Hall, investigators said.

The death was considered a mistake, police said, because the mother was supposed to take the girl to day care, but it was normally the father's responsibility to take the child.
In another case, tourists left their child in a car while doing some shopping in a Wal-Mart.
A couple from France was arrested Tuesday night after deputies said they left their daughter locked in a car at Wal-Mart on Turkey Lake Road.

Gerard and Chetrie Sterne are accused of leaving the 2-year-old inside a rental car while shopping.

A shopper noticed the child inside the car and called authorities, who said the girl was left inside for about an hour. The parents said the girl was only alone for a few minutes.
Regardless of whether the child was alone for a few minutes or an hour, this is piss-poor judgement. The child is now in the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families. That may be just as irresponsible as leaving the child unattended in a car during a Florida summer, but that's not the parents' fault. That is a topic for another time, if I can stomach it. (I probably won't be able to stomach that topic, so don't hold your breathe. Of course, if you're reading this you're not likely to be holding your breathe anyway, as you know I don't post that often.)

(Also, I am resisting the urge to ridicule French tourists for shopping at a Wal-Mart, but don't let that stop anyone from doing so in the comments.)

The third case was not as bad as the first two.
Meanwhile, a child in Ormond Beach was also rescued from a car Tuesday night after a grandmother locked her keys inside the vehicle.

The woman called for help, but rescuers couldn't get the door open and ended up breaking a window.

The child was hot but didn't require medical attention, officials said.
But all of this isn't really the interesting part, which appears in the last paragraph.
The number of children who have died of heat exhaustion has risen dramatically since the mid-1990s, totaling around 340 in the past 10 years. According to an Associated Press analysis, one reason cited was a change made to protect children by putting them in the back seat away from air bags, where they are more easily forgotten.
ADDED: Reading the story on the Orlando Sentinel webpage, I see that the comments have already turned nasty regarding the death of the toddler mentioned above. This quickly brings to mind this recent post of Mark Daniels.

UPDATE: Mark Daniels provides an update on the story he blogged about before.


Pastor_Jeff said...

Sadly, we had a similar case here in St. Louis recently (not of French tourists shopping at Wal-Mart, but of a busy couple unintentionally leaving a child in a car all day).

Children's deaths in cars from hyperthermia have increased 10-fold since the advent of airbags.

Apparently it's questionable whether airbags even do more harm than good.

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