Scoot: Dad leaves child in hot car - murder or an accident?
It happens every summer and most of ask ourselves, “How can you leave your child in a hot car?”
A 22-month-old boy named Cooper is dead because his father forgot to drop him off at day care and the young boy spent 7 hours in a steaming hot car. There are aspects of this particular case that make it even more unbelievable.
Justin Harris, 33, had stopped to have a fast-food breakfast with his son, Cooper, in a rear-facing child restraint in the backseat. Harris then drove to work at the Home Depot corporate office in an Atlanta suburb. He returned to his car during his lunch break to put something in the car and still did not realize he had forgotten his son in the backseat!
The average temperature rose to 92 degrees that day and the deadly heat inside the car was much hotter.
As a parent, it is difficult for me to comprehend how any parent can forget their child in the car. Didn’t you always talk to your children when they ere in the car with you? How do you forget your child is with you?
What makes this tragedy even more senseless is the fact that the child day care was actually at the Home Depot corporate office where Harris worked. He was supposed to bring his child to day care at the corporate office – arrived at the office/day care destination and forgot his son in the car!
When Justin Harris finally realized that he had forgotten to drop his young son off at day care, he pulled the body from the car, laid the child on the ground and immediately began to administer CPR. A crowd had gathered and that attracted the attention of the police. Witnesses said that when the father’s young son did not respond to the CPR and he realized he was dead – he became distraught and had to be physically restrained as he shouted, “What have I done? What have I done?”
Justin Harris was charged with felony murder and child cruelty and the charges raise the question – was it an accident or murder?
Immediately, a petition was started at change.org asking the district attorney to drop the charges and it has attracted hundreds of signatures. The petition makes the argument that Justin Harris is a grieving father who made a terrible mistake and his pain and grief are punishment enough. Someone commented on the website, “This could happen to anyone. Anyone. Charging a grieving father is abusive.”
Tragedies that result from mistakes with no premeditated malicious intent cause many people to believe that the loss of a child is sufficient punishment. I understand that argument and cannot even imagine what this father, and other parents in similar situations, must be dealing with, but doesn’t someone have to speak for the helpless 22-month-old child whose life was lost alone in the backseat of a car that became a deadly oven?
If grief and regret were recognized as acceptable punishment – then there would be less people in prison. This is hard for me and I have challenged myself to approach this tragedy from an understanding perspective.
If parents were held accountable and charged with murder for their gross negligence when it comes to their children – then perhaps parents would be less likely to “forget” their child in a car.
While no parent would ever want to experience the grief and guilt of knowing they were responsible for their child’s death and how easy it would have been to prevent it – holding a parent accountable might do more to send a message to all parents that they are responsible for their children – period.
Children come into this world as helpless beings that need the care and protection of their parents. When parents fail to provide basic protection for their children – society should be willing to hold them accountable.
The message is simple – don’t forget you have children!
Do you think parents who leave their children to die in a hot car should be charged with murder – or is their grief and regret punishment enough?
Tags : Topics : Law_CrimeSocial : Law_CrimeLocations : AtlantaPeople : Cooper, Justin Harris