Fatal Distraction: Forgetting a Child in the Backseat of a Car Is a Horrifying Mistake. Is It a Crime?
The charge in the courtroom was manslaughter, brought by the Commonwealth of Virginia. No significant facts were in dispute. Miles Harrison, 49, was an amiable person, a diligent businessman and a doting, conscientious father until the day last summer — beset by problems at work, making call after call on his cellphone — he forgot to drop his son, Chase, at day care. The toddler slowly sweltered to death, strapped into a car seat for nearly nine hours in an office parking lot in Herndon in the blistering heat of July.
It was an inexplicable, inexcusable mistake, but was it a crime? That was the question for a judge to decide.
This is a particularly chilling article on how leaving babies in the back seat of cars to die in a closed car is a tragedy that happens to all sorts of people. As a society, we demonize these poor people who already have suffered the worst event that could ever happen to a mom or dad. And then, we subject them to criminal prosecution. The truth is that this is a horrible unintended consequences of an unrelated safety issue. When airbags were put in cars, new laws required babies and children to move to the back seat, putting them out of sight, and sometimes tragically, out-of-mind.