It’s summertime, and it seems like every summer, there are a few things that are a sure lock to happen: sunny skies, sweltering heat… And some toolbag leaving his kid locked in a hot car.
It doesn’t seem to matter how much it gets talked about, you still hear almost weekly about someone somewhere locking a child or a pet in a hot car. Fortunately, not all of these cases result in death, but some do. The fact that something so easily preventable continues to happen regularly kinda shakes my faith in humanity a bit.
And sometimes, the circumstances make you wonder if there was some intent behind it. Take, for example, the case of Justin Ross Harris, whose son died earlier this year when he was left in a hot car for 7 hours. I could probably write at length about this guy, but that’s not my plan. If you aren’t familiar with the story, here’s the basic gist: Man forgets to drop off his son on the way to work; He goes into work, leaving his son locked in the car; He texts his wife in the afternoon, asking when she’d pick up his “little buddy” from daycare; He comes out to the car and gets in to go to a movie, and that’s when he realizes his son is still in the back seat and has already passed on. Seems fairly simple, until you get into more details of the backstory: Apparently leading up to the event, Harris had been browsing websites advocating living “child-free” and had also done searches on “how to survive in prison.” It was also suggested that he’d been leading a double-life, unhappy in his marriage, and had even been exchanging nude photos with 7 women while his son was slowly dying in his car. After the fact, he spoke with family members about claiming two life insurance policies he and his wife had for their son.
There’s a lot to that story so if you want to read up more on it, do some searching around the internet. It won’t be hard to find.
The person I want to focus on here, however, is a guy down in Wichita, Kansas who was arrested last week after his 10-month-old foster daughter died in his hot car.
Seth Jackson, pictured above on the left with his husband, seems like a pretty regular 29-year-old dude. He and his husband care for their two adopted children, as well as 4 foster kids at the time of the incident. On July 24th, he ran some errands, which included dropping off his 5-year-old son at an appointment, and picking up his 10-month-old foster daughter from the babysitter. When he got home, he and 5-year-old got out of the car and went back in the house. Police say he “somehow forgot” about the 10-month-old girl in the car until 2 1/2 hours later, when something on TV jogged his memory. By then, it was too late. The girl had died.
It certainly appeared to be an accident. According to this NBC article, there’s no evidence that Jackson or his partner abused or neglected the children at all. At first, the police held him on suspicion of child endangerment, but after police handed the case over to prosecutors, the charge was upped to First Degree Murder.
At the time, people (including the child’s biological grandmother) were surprised by the murder charge.
The child’s maternal grandmother, Cindy Poe, told NBC News that she has many questions about Jackson’s actions that day but was surprised by the murder charge.
“It blows my mind,” she said. “He loved those kids and they loved him so much. I’m mad, but at the same time, accidents do happen. I’m sure he is beat down inside. It’s hard to say what the charge should be.”
Then, on Friday, new details came to light which make the whole story make a little more sense: Jackson was high at the time.
Jackson had been smoking marijuana earlier in the day on July 24, but eventually ran out of the drug. Later, while running errands — including dropping off a 5-year-old at an appointment and picking up the 10-month-old girl from the babysitter — he stopped by a drug dealer’s home to buy more marijuana.
When he got home, Jackson “immediately began to use those drugs,” Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said. The 5-year-old also reportedly was with Jackson in the car but got out when they arrived at home.
The girl remained in the car for two hours, “when one of the parents saw something on television that made him remember the baby girl, ran outside and got the child out of the car seat and brought her into the home,” NBC News reports.
Personally, I’m of the attitude that people should be able to do whatever they like as long as it doesn’t cause damage or hurt other people. If you want to smoke some reefer, all power to you… But as soon as it starts affecting your ability to provide the basic necessities of life for your child (like not being trapped in a sweltering car), then it’s probably time to stop.
There’s no doubt in my mind that he feels remorse for the tragedy. I highly doubt it’s something he did on purpose, but I gotta wonder about his priorities. It must have been some pretty high-grade pot if his immediate plan upon getting home was to roll one up before ensuring all the kids got inside okay. Getting high should never be more important than making sure your children are okay. This guy dropped the ball, and now he’s paying for it.
As for the murder charges, a kansas.com article had this to say:
On Wednesday, Bennett’s office charged Jackson, 29, with first-degree murder. The charge alleges the girl’s death occurred within the commission of an inherently dangerous felony, according to the criminal complaint filed against him.
The underlying crime alleged is aggravated endangerment of a child. The endangerment allegation means recklessly causing or permitting a child to be in a situation where his or her life is in danger, Bennett said Wednesday.
(NOTE: “Bennett” is District Attorney Marc Bennett)
Sadly, this entirely avoidable situation happens a lot more than it should. And it can’t be blamed solely on drugs, because this has happened to many people who were not (or at least never admitted to) using drugs. It seems like no matter how many times it gets said, there are still people who lock their pets or kids on cars on hot days.
It doesn’t matter if you’re “only gone for a couple minutes.” Think of it this way: You know when you get into your car after it’s been sitting in the sun for a few hours on a hot day? It’s pretty hot in there for the 30 seconds between getting in and opening the windows. Now imagine that sustained for a couple hours.
To illustrate the point, a father locked himself inside a hot car and videotaped it to show the effects.
So while I shouldn’t have to say it, DON’T LEAVE YOUR KIDS AND PETS UNATTENDED IN YOUR CAR!
If you’re looking for something that’s okay to leave in a locked car… Try some cookies! I did it a year ago and it worked pretty well… Check out that blog HERE!