Nothing saddens me as a Miami wrongful death lawyer more than the needles death of a child. Last week, 2 year old Haley Brockington, died after being left in a daycare van for at least six hours, in 90 degree heat. It happened at Katie’s Kids Learning Center, which has been voluntarily closed since. This is both a tragedy and a crime.
Florida Statute 316.6135 makes it a misdemeanor to leave a child 6 years of age or younger unattended in a vehicle for 15 minutes or any period of time if the vehicle is running. If as a result of abandoning the child, the child is injured it is a felony.
Haley’s family filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit. Some might say, too quickly, in light of the fact that the little girl was not yet buried. However, I applaud their attorney, who happens to be both my friend and classmate, for moving quickly to get both answers and prevent this from happening again.
An unknown number of children die each year due to being left alone in cars. Usually, it happens when something changes the routine of the driver/parent and they simply forget about the child. The National Highway Safety Administration has some safety tips to help prevent this from happening to you.
I believe that manufacturers have the technology now that would place sensors on the passenger seats, similar to airbag sensors to alert drivers that there are still children on board. Our condolences go out the the family and our strongest desire that this never happens again.
* Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle.
* Do not let your children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them that a vehicle is not a play area.
* Never leave infants or children in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are partially open.
* Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away.
* If you are dropping your child off at childcare, and normally it’s your spouse or partner who drops them off, have your spouse or partner call you to make sure the drop went according to plan.
* Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child does not show up for childcare.
* Do things to remind yourself that a child is in the vehicle, such as:
o Writing yourself a note and putting the note where you will see it when you leave the vehicle;
o Placing your purse, briefcase or something else you need in the back seat so that you will have to check the back seat when you leave the vehicle; or
o Keeping an object in the car seat, such as a stuffed toy. When the child is buckled in, place the object where the driver will notice it when he or she is leaving the vehicle.
* Always lock vehicle doors and trunks and keep keys out of children’s reach. If a child is missing, check the vehicle first, including the trunk.
* If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call the police. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Cool the child rapidly. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.