This Father Who Forgot His Baby In The Car Should Not Be Charged With Manslaughter

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baby-left-in-carLast week, I wrote about an Orlando father who, after switching up his morning routine a little, forgot that he had loaded his infant into his truck to drop her off at daycare, and instead drove straight to work. The nine-month-old girl was left in the car for four hours during the hottest time of day. When he realized what he had done and rushed to the truck, she was dead. He was arrested on Friday on a charge of aggravated manslaughter.

Steven Darnell Lillie, 31, of Cocoa, Fla., will remain in Brevard County Detention Center in Sharpes, Fla., without bond until a court appearance Saturday, according to charging documents. His 9-month-old daughter, Anna Marie Lillie, died Monday when he forgot to drop her off at her grandmother’s house before he went to work.

Between 1998 and 2013 in the U.S., there were 606 heatstroke deaths of children left in cars. Of those 606, 52% or 316 were children “forgotten” by caregivers. This absolutely breaks my heart and sends a clear message that something needs to be done to assist parents. Right? Unless it was a case of caregivers being under the influence of a controlled substance or something, I’m not comfortable sending these parents to jail for making a mistake that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

I know that we all think this is one of those things that could never happen to us. But honestly, no one plans for accidents. I can’t imagine that this could ever happen to me – but am I right about that? How will punishing parents who have the death of their own children on their conscience help anything? It’s a very different scenario, but if we reached a little we could say the same for kids who tragically suffocated in their cribs or by using now recalled sleep positioners, Why weren’t you paying attention. Why didn’t you check on your child. How could you let this happen? What about choking deaths; shouldn’t all parents know how to medically assist their children in those scenarios? Clearly I’m reaching here, but an accident is an accident.

I just don’t know how punishing a father who made the worst mistake of his life is going to prevent something like this from happening again.

(photo: fuyu liu/ Shutterstock)