Thursday, February 22, 2007

Is Living With Your Mistakes Punishment Enough?

There is little doubt people do some very stupid things. This for example, is definitely one of the dumber things a criminal has done lately.

But what’s on my mind is the death of a toddler, the day before her birthday, from what is truly a tragic accident. The mother had taken Tuesday off work to run some errands and get ready for the birthday party. When she stopped at her office she left her daughter and six-year-old son in her vehicle… And she left the vehicle running.

Somehow, the child freed herself from her car seat and was able to activate the power windows while her older brother slept in the front seat.
A witness heard the girl’s cries and rushed over to the SUV where he found her caught in the window. The man freed the girl from the window and laid her on the front seat while he ran into the office building to call 911.
In the meantime, the mother returned to the car and, assuming her daughter was only sleeping, buckled her into her seat and drove towards her son’s school.
It was about 40 minutes later, after dropping her son of at school, that the woman noticed something was wrong with her daughter, said MacLeod.

Now, charges aren’t being laid. As the police have said: No charges are expected to be laid against the mother.
“This mother now has to deal with the fact that she’s lost her two-year-old daughter,” he said.

I’m having a hard time accepting that charges aren’t being laid. I’m having a hard time understanding why the mother wouldn’t have concerns about how her daughter got out of her car seat.

And here’s one other thing I don’t get at all. The man who freed the girl from the window laid her on the front seat and ran inside to call 911. Since he was calling for help it stands to reason he didn’t lock the vehicle. How did he himself get into the vehicle? Did he take the time to put the window the girl got her head stuck in back up? I wouldn’t think so… I mean, people do some strange stuff in panic situations, but this is an example of a news story where I feel a lot of critical information is missing.

But if my theorizing is correct, the mother returns to a vehicle that isn’t locked and her child is out of her car seat and she never even stops to wonder?

It leaves me hoping the police investigation wasn’t as shoddy on the details.

And it leaves me wondering when it will be illegal for people to leave kids in vehicles. I mean, a vehicle left running… Let your imagination run wild about all the things that could have happened had the boy woken up and decided to play Nascar.

I meant to mention that Amra Pajalic shared her thoughts on SC on her post on Monday:
Book of the week: Sandra Ruttan's Suspicious Circumstances. A really good read with constant accelerating of tension and plots that keep coming. What I loved most about it was the breaking of stereotypes. An ethical reporter, a cop who took duty seriously and wasn’t jaded. I also liked the romantic angle not becoming typical with an emphasis on respect between Ty and Lara as well as timing. That is there a time and a place. I really, really enjoyed it. Congratulations Sandra on writing such a great book.

Thanks for sharing your insights Amra.

And (another update) I guess I should share that I have signed on with an agent. I will be updating that information on my website soon.

And I'll have another story coming out soon...


John McFetridge said...

I've learned it's usually not a good idea to form many opinions based on media coverage. Based on the few times I've actually been involved in something and then seen the way it was reported.

And you, "guess" you should mention you signed with an agent?

Sandra Ruttan said...

Yeah John, this is one of those news stories that leaves me scratching my head. Of course there have been the ongoing radio bits...

Still, end of the day I wonder how many kids have to die from being left in a vehicle in the heat of summer or scenarios like this before we start handing out more than sympathy?

As to the agent, I'm quite pleased, but this is one of those time when I still wonder if the rug is going to come out from under me. I've had a supremely shitty week and I don't feel like talking much, even about the good stuff.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on signing with an agent and placing another story. Looking forward to details. And I hope your week improves.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'd say a few things were missing from that article. There was recently a case near me where a mother went into a saddle shop to look at I guess saddles, although it seemed to sell other things, and left her children in her truck for three hours. Granted, the truck was running, but this was during the horribly bitter cold weather we just had in the Midwest. Three hours?!?! How thick do you really have to be? norby

Sandra Ruttan said...

Thanks Amra!

Norby, three hours? See, this is where questions come in, for me. There are laws about how old kids can be before you leave them alone, or how old they need to be before they can babysit. But you can leave them in a vehicle for three hours, unsupervised, and that's okay?

Trace said...

Woohoo! Congrats Sandra!

Anonymous said...

That was my question. There's been lots of snow here lately-she's lucky there was no co2 backing up into her cab or no one broke into the truck. The stupidity of people just continues to amaze me. norby

James Goodman said...

There is no doubt in my mind that the mother should be held accountable for her negligence. That is truly a heart breaking story on so many levels.

And wow!!!!! Congrats on signing with an agent. :D

I look forward to hearing more about that and the new story.

Eileen said...

Congrats on the agent and the great review.

Judy said...

I'm with you, Sandra. It should be illegal to leave your kids alone in a car. I can't imagine it not being already.

Congratulations on the agent. I hope the two of you get on well together.

JamesO said...

I wonder what punishment you could mete out to this woman that would be worse than what she's already going through. Locking her up's not going to help her other child much, either.

Based as it is on a blog post about a news story, my opinion of this particular case would be fairly worthless. I remember being left in the car by my mum when I was a kid, and I guess it was stupid of her. Three hours in a truck parked up in sub-zero temperatures sounds pretty dumb to me, but you don't have to get a licence to have children, and there's no IQ test before you can have sex.

I'm generally against making things illegal if it's at all possible. Meddling at that level with how people raise their kids and run their families tends, in the long run, to be counter-productive as parents forget how to take responsibility for their own actions and instead look to the state to solve the problem whenever something goes wrong.

This sounds like a tragic accident that could have been avoided with a bit more care, but I doubt that legislation will ever stop similar things happening.

JamesO said...

Oh, and congratulations about the agent, btw. The plan to take over the world proceeds apace;}#

Sandra Ruttan said...

James, it's the contradictions that get me. Calgary is so frickin' anal they have lawn grass length rules and if you think your neighbour's lawn is too long you can phone and they'll come measure it and if it is they'll get ticketed.

We regulate that but shrug our shoulders when people leave kids in cars? Yes, my parents did it to us too. One big difference I know of - if I touched anything I would have wept sitting down for a month. I bloody well knew better, because I knew I didn't want to get spanked. Kids these days... I'm not saying I'm all for spanking. I'm just saying that kids today have no fear and I've seen it over and over again, that they know they don't have to listen to adults. It comes back to the one question - what if the older child had woken up and decided to play Nascar? At some point we have to step in and protect these kids from their own stupidity, and (in some cases) from bad parents. Like the woman breastfeeding while driving.

When I worked with kids if I'd done either of these things (let's say bottle feeding instead of breastfeeding to be fair) it would have been my JOB and there could have been charges.

I'm prepared to say there's a hell of a lot left to be explained here, and I don't think day 1 anyone should have been jumping to the automatic conclusion that the mother wouldn't be charged. Did they reenact the scenario to determine how long those children were left outside unsupervised? I know it was shoddy journalism, but it smacks of shoddy police work as well, and I'm not so quick to hand out my sympathy to the parent. She's front page news again today here, on a tear telling other parents how to raise their kids now.

If this was the US, how much do you want to bet there'd be a lawsuit against the car seat manufacturers because "somehow" the toddler got free?

Meanwhile the girl's older brother is blaming himself. Geez.