A Georgia toddler died inside a hot car after his father forgot to take him to daycare. Justin Ross Harris, age 33, claims he made an honest mistake. Unfortunately, the mistake led to the death of his 22-month-old son.
Harris routinely dropped his son off at the facility on his way to work. However, on Wednesday, Harris forgot to stop at the daycare and drove directly to work. As his son was unusually silent, he did not realize the toddler was still inside the car.
Following his seven hour shift, Harris returned to his vehicle. When he got into the driver’s seat and adjusted the rear view mirror, he was stunned to see his son strapped into the back seat. Although he immediately removed the toddler from the car, it was simply too late.
Dale Hamilton witnessed the horrific scene:
“He pulled him out, laid him on the ground, and tried to resuscitate him… He was lifeless, he was in the same position as if he were sitting in the car seat… It’s something that I’ll remember for a long time.”
As reported by AJC News, Harris was inconsolable when he realized the toddler died in the hot car. After contacting authorities, the father was reportedly running around and screaming “What have I done… What have I done… I’ve killed our child.”
Although the exact cause of the toddler’s death is unknown, the temperature peaked in the low 90s. Authorities suspect the child succumbed to the intense heat inside the locked vehicle.
Authorities eventually subdued the distraught father and transported him to the Cobb Police Department for questioning. Following questioning, Harris was arrested and charged with murder and cruelty to children in the first degree.
Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds admits that the incident is heartbreaking for everyone involved:
“It’s just a terrible, God-awful situation… I can’t imagine, I can’t fathom what any parent would be going through at this stage. It’s the type of case that affects the community.”
Although he is sympathetic, Reynolds said Harris is ultimately responsible for his son’s death. Investigators and the district attorney’s office agree that the toddler died in the hot car due to his father’s negligence.
As the charges are quite serious, District Attorney Reynolds said the investigation is “far, far from over.” The Cobb County Medical Examiner’s Office is currently attempting to determine the exact cause of the toddler’s death.
It is a heartbreaking scenario. Unfortunately it is far too common. In the last 15 years, more than 500 babies and toddlers have died while locked inside hot or cold cars. In many cases, the parents were unaware the children were left inside the vehicles.
As reported by ABC News, parents can prevent similar tragedy by reminding themselves their children are inside the car. Experts suggest leaving necessary personal items, like purses and cell phones, on the floor in the back seat. They can also carry a special toy or stuffed animal in the passenger seat to remind them that their child is in the back seat.
Every parent makes mistakes. Unfortunately, some mistakes can lead to tragedy. Justin Ross Harris’ son died in a hot car because he forgot to take him to daycare. It is a mistake he will never forget.
[Image via Daily News]