Checking your backseat ….

Several years ago (2006 if I remember correctly) there was a particular horrific incident where a professor, Dr Andrew Wilkinson, had his infant son (17 months old) in the back of his car, and forgot to drop him off at school.  The child had fallen asleep and was quiet, so the father did not hear him.

Normally the child would go to his grandparents, but this particular day Dr Wilkinson was meant to drop the child off at creche – it was a different routine, and whilst he was driving to work, he slipped into “routine gear….”  {I am doing this on memory, so I may be a bit off with the details}

On arriving at the university, he locked the car, and went to work as he usually did, not realising his son was still in the car.    It was unfortunately a hot day – around 26 degrees, and the temperature inside the car would have climbed to between 40 – 50 degrees.  The car was parked outside in a parking lot at the university.

It was a terrible story, with a tragic outcome.

I remember the incident clearly and probably think of that professor, that infant and the mother who had to bear that news, probably once a week.

It made me realise how often we slip in to “routine” and stop thinking about what we are doing.

You drive the same route to work, you park in the same spot, you follow the same procedure when you lock up and grab your stuff to dash to the office.

I have often been driving to one place, and then “wake up” at a point and realise I was driving to another, as I was doing my normal routine, and my mind had switched off.

We all do it …. fortunately we do not all have the tragic outcome.

Because of 1996, I check my car EVERY day in case I have forgotten a child in the backseat.   I actually double-check every day.

When I leave my kid’s schools I glance in the backseat to make sure they are not there.  I do not glance in the mirror, I actually swivel my head around and look at each of their seats.

When I get home to work, I consciously look around to check again that they are not in the backseat, and I have not noticed.   I mentally take note, and mentally take a quick tally.  Kids: 0 – check!

A simple oversight resulted in the worst possible outcome, and left a family hurt, scarred, distraught and a little boy dead.

I really am not in the mind of “good things have come out of that incident” as I feel the price paid was too much for what ever “good” might have come out of it.

I wonder how many other people were effected by that story, and how many other parents now “double-check” just to be sure that they have not left a child in the backseat.

I cannot imagine how that family was effected – I am not sure I could recover from that – I am glad the media appear to have left them in peace.

 

 

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15 Comments

  1. What an awful thing to have happened, I feel so sad now, I am not familiar with this incident, I was still a happily ignorant teen eveloped in all things high school at the time. Now with 3 kids in tow, the very thought of this happening to anyone makes me so sad! I will definately be checking my back seat everyday from now on!

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  March 12, 2012

      It was absolutely horrendous … and even though I did not have kids at the time it really stuck with me ….

      Reply
  2. Hilary

     /  March 12, 2012

    Tragic story. I work at the university and, at the time, not too far from the parking area where this happened. I remember hearing about it and just going cold and my heart breaking. Feeling like that and not even being related to this family in any way, I cannot imagine what they were going through. Cannot believe its nearly 6 years already. I could not see myself recovering from something like that. The ‘if only’s’ would kill me.

    Reply
  3. Katherine

     /  March 8, 2012

    Very, very good friends of ours were their neighbours in Harfield Village. I remember my friend telling me that she’d chatted to the wife and she said she didn’t blame her husband as he already had to deal with what he’d done for the rest of his life, I didn’t realise they’d split up as our friends moved in 2009 and at that stage they were still together. The scary thing is that you say you would never do it and yet it happened and it could in fact happen to anyone. Thinking about it sends shivers down my spine. That poor, poor dad. When it happened, I was pregnant with Zoe and I think you can only really appreciate just how awful it is to lose a child, let alone under those circumstances, once you have your own children.

    Reply
  4. I do that too. Every day.

    Reply
  5. I think that story will forever live in the collective mind of our generation. And yes, I check the back too

    Reply
  6. That story really played on my mind too. I did not have kids yet but once I had my own I used to always phone my hubby when it was his turn to do the drop off and make sure he had done it. I can really see how easily it could happen. There was an episode of that spin-off to Grey’s Anatomy once where this had happened to a couple and the mother had forgiven the father and now they wanted fertility treatment so that they could have another baby. The doctor did not want to do it because of the way the previous baby died (he was also from fertility treatment, I think). I don’t remember how it ended but it really made one think, what an ethical dilemma.

    Reply
  7. Loretta

     /  March 8, 2012

    I also vividly remember that story and in a way is relieved that my little offspring has been a loud one since day one and will never allow you to forget his presence.
    More disturbing though is that the same thing happened about a week ago in Italy. Also a dad, also an academic!
    http://www.news24.com/World/News/Dad-forgets-child-in-hot-car-20110522

    Reply
  8. Charlotte aka Scaredmom

     /  March 8, 2012

    It is so easy. I was still in High School and my father use to drop my baby at school and my mother dropped me and my eldest brother. We dropped my eldest brother of at his school and when we arrived at my school, my baby brother was still in the back seat, silently playing with his car.

    Reply
  9. Absolutely heart-wrenching. I can’t forget the annoying judgemental remarks one would overhear at that time.

    Reply
  10. Yes, I also think of that story often… Sad to hear that it tore the family apart!

    Reply
  11. Gail

     /  March 8, 2012

    I also double check every single day because of that story:(

    Reply
  12. Sharon

     /  March 8, 2012

    A friend of mine was one of the social workers assigned to that case, it is a terrible tragedy and I was not surprised to hear that the tragedy eventually tore that family apart. It is my worst fear and something I too am very mindful of

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  March 8, 2012

      I am not sure how one recovers from this …. or forgives with an open heart …. I can’t imagine the pain that they must have suffered …. it happens so long ago, but it still feels very recent …

      Reply
  13. horrific story.

    Reply

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