Mother Who Left Baby In Car Speaks Out - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Mother Who Left Baby In Car Speaks Out

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by Chris Conte

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Donelson mother who accidentally left her 5-month-old baby in her minivan last summer is opening up about his loss in hopes of preventing another tragedy.

On August 7, 2012, Stephanie Gray dropped off her kids, ages 6, 9 and 11, at school. The mother of four thought she then dropped off her 5-month-old baby, Joel, at Donelson Heights United Methodist Church daycare, but that tragically was not the case.

"I just kept saying to myself 'how did I do this, what have I done?' I couldn't understand how my brain had played such a trick on me, if you will," the 39-year-old said in a recent interview.

Stephanie arrived to pick Joel up at daycare around 2:30 p.m. that day, but a worker there told her Joel had never been dropped off. 

It was at that moment she realized she had never taken him out of the car earlier in the day.

"The word 'forgotten' is used a lot and it's probably the easiest way for people to put it when they talk about my story is 'the mother who forgot her baby in the car,' but when I really analyze that day and my thought process I realize that 'forgot' is really an over simplification of what happened. It was much more than just forgetting; it was almost like the best way I can describe it is a lapse in memory and my brain adopted an event that had previously happened," she explained.

The high temperature that day in August was 93 degrees. Joel had been strapped into the backseat of his mother's minivan for five hours.

"I got the car door open and I found my son in the car and my son was clearly, I don't know if 'struggling' is the word, he was lifeless. It's something that I'll never forget," Stephanie said while holding back tears.

Stephanie and her husband said the last 10 months have been incredibly trying for them and their boys.

"When we said our vows I never would've imagine we'd be tested like this," Aaron Gray said about the loss of their baby boy.

The Grays are opening up about what happened in hopes it will make other parents pay more attention when they're running through the busy routines of their days with their young children.

"It can be prevented and if it's your child it matters," they added.

Even though Joel's death was ruled an accident, Stephanie was still cited for reckless endangerment and neglect and will spend two years on probation.

The Grays said doing things like leaving your briefcase near a car seat or a cell phone might help other parents in the future.

For more information on safety tips about kids and cars click here.


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