The NASA Marshall Space Flight Center was the scene of an unthinkable and horrific tragedy on Wednesday afternoon; that’s when an employee’s 7-month-old infant was found dead in a parked vehicle on the property. According to a NASA spokesperson, the 7-month-year-old child of an as-yet unidentified NASA employee became the latest in a string of hot car deaths to plague the U.S. this summer, and authorities reportedly believe that the baby had been left in the employee’s parked car for the duration of the work day.
As Al.com reports, it is believed that the NASA employee’s 7-month-old infant was left in the employee’s vehicle for hours. Reportedly, the NASA employee (who is not being identified by name or even gender at this point) was supposed to have dropped the child off at an undisclosed daycare facility before reporting for work in the morning. Local Alabama authorities have indicated that the NASA employee’s 7-month-old child was found deceased at 4:42 p.m. That means that the child could have been locked, unattended, in a hot car for eight to 10 hours before its corpse was discovered.
“Early reports indicate that the parent intended to drop the child off at the childcare center and instead went straight to work. Names are being withheld out of respect for the family and pending all appropriate family notifications.”
@KTLA stress. Work work work. Money money money. That's how.— Marmar (@flower114414) September 22, 2016
WHNT reports that emergency personnel got a call alerting them to the discovery of the NASA employee’s 7-month-old at precisely 4:42 p.m. on Wednesday. First responders arrived to the scene of the unconscious and unresponsive infant within “just moments” of getting the call, according to local media reports. Unfortunately, the quick response of emergency workers wasn’t fast enough to save the 7-month-old, who was reportedly already dead when the first help arrived.
It has been widely reported that “officials” are investigating the wholly preventable death of the NASA employee’s tiny infant.
What has been less widely reported is that it is going to be federal authorities, not state or local police, who are going to be conducting the investigation into the hot car death of the NASA employee’s 7-month-old. That’s because Marshall Space Flight Center is part of Redstone Arsenal, which is a federal military property. This means that the NASA employee’s 7-month-old child’s death will be, in a sense, investigated by authorities who share a common boss.
Unlike in many other cases of hot-car-related infant deaths this summer and in summer’s past, the feds have opted to protect the identities of not just the deceased 7-month-old, but the baby’s family as well. So far, nobody has been specifically named in connection to the death of the NASA employee’s 7-month-old. The public hasn’t even been informed whether or not the NASA employee is a male or female.
7-month-old found dead in parked car at Marshall Space Flight Center https://t.co/pJRdzBwip4— SteveSlayed (@steve010859) September 22, 2016
Colonel Tom Holliday, who is also the garrison commander of the facility, spoke out about the incident. Rather than speaking of condemnation or censure for the NASA employee who reportedly left their 7-month-old infant locked in a hot car for an entire business day, the colonel spoke of condolences and the offering of resources.
“This is a tragic situation for all of Team Redstone. We extend our deepest condolences to the family and offer them all of our resources during this most difficult time.”
While the death of any child is inarguably tragic and difficult, Wednesday’s hot car death of a 7-month-old at Marshall Space Flight Center (a facility undoubtedly crawling with security cameras) marks one of dozens of hot car deaths to strike American infants in 2016. As NoHeatStroke.org reports, 32 U.S. children have died in hot cars in 2016. That number was reportedly updated on September 21, and should reflect the tragic death of the NASA employee’s 7-month-old in Alabama earlier this afternoon.
To put that number in perspective, 24 children in the U.S. died in hot cars in 2015.
Infant found dead in car at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville https://t.co/TntJCaIUta— ABC 33/40 News (@abc3340) September 22, 2016
Of those children who have died in hot cars, a plethora of criminal charges have been levied against their parents (or the adults responsible for their care); those charges tend to vary by situation and jurisdiction. There has even been some talk that charges in children’s hot car deaths can vary by the race/gender of the person responsible for their care at the time of their death.
What do you think? Should the parents/adults responsible for the hot car deaths of infants/children have their identities hidden? Is this case being handled differently because the parent was allegedly a NASA employee? Should the parent responsible for the death of the NASA employee’s 7-month-old face charges for “forgetting” to drop their baby at daycare?
[Featured Image courtesy of NASA]