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.