Deaths of small children left in hot cars remains an epidemic in 2014, with the 20th such child this year dying Friday in Hurricane, Utah, with her mom and family left shattered by the tragedy that the mom's sister said happened due to a "change in routine."
The unusual circumstances led mom April Suwyn to believe that she had put 11-month-old Skyah down for a nap when in fact the infant was stuck in the back of Suwyn's car parked on the street on a day when the high temperature hit 97 degrees.
While April Suwyn has been subjected to the sadly expected barrage of online vitriol, her sister said that the mom completely blames herself for the tragedy, which is "eating away at her" and has left a void in the family.
"It was an accident. If people who are being negative could even see how hard she is on herself," said Suywn's sister, Aimee Wright, in a tearful interview with the Deseret News newspaper. "If they could see that she keeps saying, 'If only. If only. If only. I wouldn't have been out of my routine that day. If only I had gone to the gym.' She blames it all on herself."
The trouble started when she dropped her older sons off with a babysitter, who normally watches them while Suwyn, a manicurist, sees clients in her home. Skyah, the baby, would normally nap while her mom did nails for clients.
But on Friday, she was forced by construction to park down the street from her home, and was preoccupied by an urgent need to use the restroom. So she hurried home, and after attending to the pressing nature call, forgot that the baby was in the car, assuming instead that Skyah was already napping -- as was the usual morning routine.
She normally had a neighbor look after the napping baby as she took the few minutes to pick her sons up in the afternoon.
She went back out to the car shortly after 1 pm and drove the short distance to the babysitter's house, still not noticing Skyah in the car. When she returned to the vehicle, that's when she saw her baby, who was not responsive.
The baby was pronounced dead after being rushed to a nearby hospital.
Friends and extended family have been supportive of April Suwyn in the days since the horrifying hot car accident, even starting on online crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the Suwyn family. The site had already passed its $5,000 goal by Saturday.
"April is just a fantastic mom. She loves her children more than anything in the world," said friend Lacie Van Dam said.
Hurricane police are investigating the hot car tragedy. Hot car deaths of small children have happened at a rate of about 38 per year since 1998 in the United States.