Experts Say Leaving Baby In Car Is Easier Than Parents Think - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Experts Say Leaving Baby In Car Is Easier Than Parents Think

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DONELSON, Tenn. - The death of a five-month old baby left in the back of a hot car Tuesday appears to be a terrible accident.

Child Safety Experts at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital said it happens all too often, and it usually occurs from a slight change in a parent's morning routine. 

That appears to be what happened to 38-year-old Stephanie Gray on Tuesday. She told police that she took two kids to school, came home to get her 11-year-old son and brought him to school, but she never realized her 5-month-old was in the backseat of the minivan until it was too late. She went to pick up 5-month-old Joel from daycare at Donelson Heights Methodist Daycare on Tuesday afternoon, but caregivers told Gray she never dropped him off that morning. That's when police said she ran back to her minivan and found Joel strapped into his car seat. Her van had been parked in the driveway of their home for several hours during the day.

Sarah Haverstick at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt said this problem is more common than parents think, and it usually occurs when dropping the child off at a certain location is not part of the normal morning routine.

Gray told police it was only Joel's second day at Donelson Heights Methodist Daycare, and dropping him off there wasn't part of her normal routine just yet.

 "When they are really little like that, and they are just asleep in the back of the car, it's easy to not hear them back there and get into your routine, and if that's not dropping off the child, that's usually when it happens, and it's heartbreaking," said Haverstick. 

She educates parents about how easily this deadly mistake can happen and explains it happens to parents from all backgrounds.

"I think that's the thing to remember; this could happen to anybody. It doesn't matter who you are. I've seen it happen to doctors," she said.

It only takes minutes for high temperatures to stop a baby's heart.

"It is really dangerous for them. Cars can heat up in about 10 minutes to over 20 degrees higher than the outside temperature," said Haverstick.

Temperatures reached the mid 90's on Tuesday and even on Wednesday NewsChannel 5's Temperature gauge showed the inside of parked cars reaching from 118 to 153 degrees.

Haverstick said this type of death is easy to prevent. Parents should try putting their purse, cell phone, briefcase, or laptop in the backseat to ensure that they look into the backseat before they get out of the car and walk away. Haversack said it's a life-saving reminder when routines takeover, and when even the best parents can forget about their most precious cargo.

"It's a big issue; it's an issue across the country and really tragic just because it is so preventable," said Haverstick.

Gray's case is still under investigation, but no charges have been filed against her.


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