Has our society become so busy and distracted that an oversight like remembering a child in the car is the new normal? This is a question we must ask ourselves, as unfortunate events like this continue to occur.
Jamie Buckley was on her way to Cedar Grove Elementary School for business as usual. She's a schoolteacher, according to Panama City News Herald, who enters the building between 7 and 7:30 a.m. and leaves after 3 p.m. Sticking to her routine, she made her daily trip to school during the workweek to educate children but forgot one of the most precious things in her car.
Her own daughter.
Shortly after her school day ended, Jamie headed back to her vehicle, where she noticed her toddler was still in her car seat. The Bay County Sheriff’s Office and EMS responded to a call around 3:15 p.m., but it was too late. Jamie's daughter, Reagan Buckley, was pronounced dead on the scene. "Deputies arrived to discover an 18-month-old child that was not breathing," revealed Sheriff Frank McKeithen.
There's still no word on whether charges will be filed.
News of this tragedy has sparked a debate on the Facebook page of the Bay County's Sheriff's Office. While many ask for prayers and no harsh judgment against the mother for her oversight, there are some who find it hard to simply excuse the accident.
The loss of a child is something a parent never wants to face. Since their time in the womb, we do everything in our power to protect them from harm's way. As a mother of a 16-month-old and baby on the way, I can't imagine how I would cope if my child died of heatstroke because of my own negligence. This is one of the main reasons I always check the back seat of my car before entering and exiting, as changes to a normal routine can cause a fatal error.
"The most dangerous mistake a parent or caregiver can make is to think leaving a child alone in a vehicle could never happen to them or their family," notes KidsAndCars.org. It also points out "auto-pilot" or a subconscious habit memory (basal ganglia) can often be to blame. The organization's Child Vehicular Heat Stroke Fact Sheet also breaks down how quickly cars heat up — in some cases reaching temperatures above 100 degrees F within minutes. On average, the body of a child heats up three to five times faster than an adult's.
As parents, we need to take more precautions to help ensure another innocent life is not taken too soon. KidsAndCars.org recommends "looking before you lock," a strategy that makes it a habit to check the back seat before you leave your vehicle. Reminders like a smartphone app, stuffed animal in the car seat or leaving an item you need in the back seat to retrieve also help cut down on children left in the car.
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