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Eight Children Die in One Week in Hot Cars

32 comments

Currently it isn't as hot in Michigan as it was just a few weeks ago, and perhaps thankfully so as the numbers of children dying in cars across the country topped eight in one week between August 1-7. Despite the best efforts of safety advocates and federal highway safety officials, eight children died of heat stroke after being left in steaming hot cars.

This year alone, 23 children died of hyperthermia in cars in 13 states, but eight in one week is believed to be the highest one-week total ever. Heat stroke is the leading cause of death for non-crash related accidents for children under the age of 14. It is dangerous to leave your child unattended in a hot vehicle for even one minute, say safety officials. The bodies of infants and children heat up three to five times faster than adults, making them highly susceptible to high temperatures in hot vehicles.

Reggie McKinnon, age 40, suffered his own personal tragedy two years ago when he accidentally left his 17-month-old daughter, Payton, in the car for hours. He had taken her to a doctor's appointment that morning and drove to work as he usually did after it was over. Unfortunately, he forgot about Payton in her rear-facing car seat in the back, and when he came outside from work at 3 o'clock that afternoon, he found her dead. One of the hardest parts was telling his wife about his daughter's death and coming to terms with the fact that he had made an irreparable mistake. He says that he always imagined that drug addicts or uneducated people left their children in hot vehicles, not a doting father like himself. McKinnon's story demonstrates that anyone can make a deadly mistake, but safety officials say that you can avoid this by placing a necessary item in the backseat such as a cell phone or briefcase.

32 Comments

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  1. Tammy says:
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    I just don’t understand how a child can be forgotten in a car

    When my children were little, I was always thinking about getting to our destination safely. They were never not on my mind.

  2. Gloria says:
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    No parent is perfect, but how can I forget that my child is in a hot car? When my boys were very young, just knowing that they had a fever concerned me. To read stories like this one is “AWFUL”.

  3. Destiny says:
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    A briefcase or cellphone is more of a necessary item than a child? Stories like this make me sick. Those poor kids.

  4. Katie says:
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    What an idiot, he left his child in the car? How do you forget that? And forget about it for the rest of the day…I mean really, you just left your child’s appointment, and you forgot she was with you…real pathetic!!!!! People like that shouldn’t have children!!

  5. Ellie417 says:
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    I certainly hope that whomever is responsible for leaving these kids in the cars are charged with as many charges as a DA can think of, even murder if they can get it to fit. We, as the rest of the resposible world HAVE TO GET INVOLVED!!! If you’re walking to through the parking lot, do a quick check of the cars around you and whether it’s an animal or a child you see, DO SOMETHING! Call 911, try the door and get the kid out, if the child is unresponsive, not sweating when they should, I personally would smash the window to get that kid out.
    There’s no easy way to make sure each parent is a good one, but until we stop our general apathy in getting involved in things that “aren’t our business” and stop being too busy and pay attention…look up from your cell phones…you just might see what’s really going on and have the chance to be a hero.

  6. Robin says:
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    Since many of these devastated parents remembered their Ipads and cellphones, why hasn’t Apple or Microsoft or the neighborhood nerd invented an app to alert you the moment you walk away from a child ( or a pet for that matter) in a locked car?We have apps that lock or unlock our house remotely, apps that clean the kitty’s litter box remotely, how hard would it be? Wish I was more nerdy….I bet it would be a hot seller…..maybe better to give away though…..

  7. virginia real says:
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    I had three small children-in the older days and every time I stopped anywhere that I got out of the car. they did too-might have have been a bother. bit well worth it.

  8. rae says:
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    I heard a small puppy on the backseat of a car in a parking lot and called the police. Just after they arrived the woman who owned the car came out
    and said she’d only been in the store for just a few minutes. I told her I’d been there for 20 minutes and the police had been there for at least ten minutes. I was so upset I left the area and let the police take care of the situation. I hope she got a ticket to appear in court and a fine… better yet, I hope they took the puppy away from her!! Animals feel pain, too!!!

  9. rae says:
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    … by the way, the temperature outside was 105 degrees! You can just imagine what it was in the car!

  10. Bruce Ramsey says:
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    If I accidentally left my child to die in a hot car, I think I’d be greatly tempted blow my brains out.

  11. Karen West says:
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    I am glad you are all so perfect! This poor man is telling his story because he wants to help other people avoid his horrible mistake. He is saying he WAS just like all of you, he was a normal loving father who never thought he would make a mistake that would cost him the life of his child. This man was willing to put himself out there risking harsh judgement so that he could send a warning which will hopefully save someone else’s child. Shame on each and every one of you!

  12. Terry says:
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    This is so tragic that this happens and that people don’t have the common sense not to do it. Is this nature thinning the herd? Seriously, if a parent would make such a poor judgement, what else would they neglect or ignore?

  13. Lizzy says:
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    Karen West – He’s a moron – you need to back off – an innocent child lost their life because of an inconsiderate selfish person. If you can’t handle all the responsibilities of being a parent, like TAKING YOU CHILD OUT OF A CAR WHEN YOU GET OUT, then you SHOULD NOT be a parent. BOTTOM LINE!!!!!!!

  14. LaReina says:
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    I have to say that I totally understand where this man is coming from. I have four kids. Three of them are close in age and my youngest is 6 years apart from the youngest of the three. In these times things for parents are so busy and when you are doing something out of your normal schedule it is easy to forget things. When my youngest was 2 weeks old we had to go to the market, well my older kids are old enough to get out of the car by themselves and this was the first time that we had taken the baby out we went into the market and started shopping then I stoped and started feeling like something was missing…I had left the baby in the car. It had only been about 5 min and she was fine and after that let me tell I will never forget again. And I am sure the gentlemen in this article will never do something like tha again. Nobody is perfect the time that we are in are so busy!!!!I am sure that there is not a day that goes by where this man dosent think about what happened.

  15. Mel Mel says:
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    I just dont understand it. And I dont think I ever will. I have 2 children: a 1 yr old and a 4 yr old. And the only thing I ever recall of forgetting is my groceries. I mean I am not judging him BUT HOW can it happen? I LOVE MY CHILDREN too and never have I forgotten them??!! HOW…I just dont understand it…poor babies. And I am NOT PERFECT EITHer but my babies are first and are always in my mind.

  16. Mel Mel says:
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    I just dont understand it. And I dont think I ever will. I have 2 children: a 1 yr old and a 4 yr old. And the only thing I ever recall of forgetting is my groceries. I mean I am not judging him BUT HOW can it happen? I LOVE MY CHILDREN too and never have I forgotten them??!! HOW…I just dont understand it…poor babies. And I am NOT PERFECT EITHer but my babies are first and are always in my mind.

  17. Amber C says:
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    I cannot believe these people so ready to pass judgement. Do you even have children? I am a mother of three small children. Although this is a very tragic story; this parent has to live with the consequences of unintentionally leaving his little girl in the back seat to die for the rest of his life. I think that is torture enough. The ones who should be punished, in my opinion, are the ones who do it intentionally – thinking that leaving the kids in the car for a few minutes won’t matter. I am a very good and loving mother, but I am not a perfect mom. No one is perfect. All it takes is that one time where we are running late, have a schedule change, or an emergency and forget to remove our children. Instead of chastising a parent owning up to a very painful experience, let’s try to figure out a way to reduce these happenings to 0%.

  18. Wait a Minute! says:
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    You know, when we first hear of stories like these we want to rail against parents like these who leave their children in the car and ask questions (like many already have) of how can a loving parent do this, etc. But let’s step back and consider some things.

    If your children are over the age of about 15, you probably were NOT required to have your child in the back seat strapped in a carseat facing the rear of the vehicle for the first 12-24 months of his or her life.

    How many things a working parent (whether in the home or outside the home) has on his or her mind can distract even the most devoted of parents.

    The death of any child is devastating but do you really think that there is any punishment that can be worse for a loving parent living with the fact that his/her action was the direct result of losing his/her own child? No DA or judge or jury of ones peers could find a more cruel sentence!

    I love my child very dearly but I have (on occasion) been so consumed with my thoughts while I was driving and she was sleeping that until I saw her in the rear-view mirror, I momentarily forgot she was back there. Please, let’s try to be a bit more understanding of the people to whom the tragedy strikes. Put yourself in that person’s shoes before you post such hateful opinions.

  19. Connie says:
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    I feel sorry for the parents. Being a parent myself I do understand no one is perfect.There isn’t anyone I know that has not made mistakes. Some are just more costly than others.I have a 15 year old niece. That made one big one, it cost her, her leg. Again ,I want to say I am sorry to all the parents ,grandparents and people that have made this mistake.

  20. Jodi says:
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    I think this man has suffered enough and will feel guilty for the rest of his life. No reason to make such comments about him. He is trying to help others.

  21. ina johnson says:
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    I am not excusing anyone here, but this is an example of how distracted we are by the busy-ness of our rush-rush-rush lives. People are more distracted than ever, and I think it is telling that Payton’s father was heading to work.

  22. nani grl says:
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    The dad was preoccupied. Everyone makes mistakes, its just too bad he had to pay such a heavy price.

  23. nani grl says:
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    The dad was preoccupied. Everyone makes mistakes, its just too bad he had to pay such a heavy price.

  24. Ann says:
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    This could have been anybody…I think of my children all day everyday but I have still made plenty of mistakes along the way. Most of these incidents happen when there is a change of routine and the car seat is backwards so you can’t see them. I am with my children all day everyday and my husband maybe sees them three hours a day after work during the week he is not involved in their daily driving routines and if we was all of a sudden he may forget different things hopefully not an entire child but when your not used to things you make mistakes. That doesn’t make him irresponsible but human. These parents are going to be living in their own hell for the rest of their lives isn’t that enough? Accidents happen all the time and sometime they are more serious then others that is life.

  25. Cindy says:
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    I cannot imagine the grief that man has dealt with due to his responsibility for the death of his child.
    That being said, I cannot imagine forgetting any of my children (I have six); although I am a stay at home mom, there are times when we are rushing around (going to pick some up from school, running errands, etc…), yet I always do a head count.
    There is just no excuse for forgetting a child in the car. I don’t care how busy your life is; if it’s that hectic, maybe it’s time to examine your priorities.

  26. Amy says:
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    I feel horrible for his wife, having to be told her daughter is dead.
    A child, after the age of 1yr can be in their car seat facing forward. Most car seats are in the middle of the back seat…STILL, while driving, are we not always looking in the rear view mirror? he could not see the car seat??
    And guess what…yes I can judge, because I am a parent. I use to live in Delaware and there was a huge case where a PA family came to the beach for the day, because the Father had a Job interview.
    Their Baby died, suffocating in a hot car. The parents blames each other. We studied the case in Law classes at Uni and I always believed it was the Mother who intentionally left the baby. Assuming her husband would be out of his interview soon, so she took the other children to the beach. grave error and I just cannot believe a parent could accidentally leave a child in a car for so long without knowing. It does not wash!

  27. Lisa says:
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    Ya know … I do believe this guy feels remorse, but how in the heck do you FORGET your kid is in the car after taking them to a doctor appointment? You just drive to work like any other day and don’t remember where you had just been? THIS SO DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE. Unless you don’t have a working brain.

  28. Lisa says:
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    Ya know … I do believe this guy feels remorse, but how in the heck do you FORGET your kid is in the car after taking them to a doctor appointment? You just drive to work like any other day and don’t remember where you had just been? THIS SO DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE. Unless you don’t have a working brain.

  29. sharij says:
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    things happen. And for a parent who doesn’t normally take kids with them it would be easy to do especially if the child was sleeping. It’s SAD SAD SAD. And who are you to judge? I always put my son in the front seat with me, because I know me, and I know I could do something like that accidentally.

  30. angie says:
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    I just want to say that even older children can get themselves into a sticky situation. My 9 year old son just this June – took advantage of the fact that I was on the phone and snuck out to his dad’s work van (my husband was at work with a different van)to get a power drill (??? – he was “creating” something) and the door slammed behind him – none of the doors would open from the inside – there were bars on the windows and there was no entrance into the front seat area because of a security gate – he was trapped. If I had not gone out to look for him – and if he did not have the great idea of banging on the inside of the van with a sledgehammer – I would not be telling this story right now – because I believe my life would have ended too. Kids think they know everything today and can do anything – we have to watch them every second- no matter the age. I still have trouble forgetting the horror of discovering him in there – red faced and sweaty and am frequently reminded by horrible stories like these. Thank you for letting me share. Its been hard keeping this all inside for 3 months.

  31. jamie b says:
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    I feel so bad for this man and his family- obviously including the child. Having empathy for someone who made a horrible mistake does not equate to failing to have empathy for the victim of his mistake. As a mother who also loves her children very much (even without proving it by using all capital letters), I can understand how something like this happened when there was a change in a routine. I took my infant son all the way to work one time, skipping day care, because my husband usually took him to day care in the morning. On less sleep than needed, and running a list of things to do at work through my head, I just spaced into the routine of driving to work. Thankfully, I only had to feel horrified with myself and embarrassed when I reached back to grab my bag in the parking lot and there he still was. It is easy to go into auto pilot when you have routines you repeat every day. This poor family is brave to subject themselves to the judgement of others if it keeps just one family from carelessly making the same mistake.

  32. Steve says:
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    I have never been in my car with my child and not talked to her or looked at her. You have to be so self absorbed to not notice a child in your car – especially when you put it there! This is absolutley mind boggling to me how this can happen.