Last weekend, at a Lyndhurst, NJ shopping complex, a woman noticed a toddler in a car seat, left in a car with the windows closed. Karen Wagner and a local firefighter, who was in the parking lot as well, removed the child from the unlocked vehicle. Wagner said, "He felt hot to the touch. I never felt a child who was that hot before, even when my kids had fevers growning up," tearfully noting, "He was saturated in sweat." She dumped a bottle of water on the boy's head, and the 17-month old was taken to the hospital. However, none of the dozens of people gathered at the scene were related to the baby.
Finally, police found the mother, Tatiana Deleao, in the nearby T.J. Maxx store. Lyndhurst Det. Captain John Valente said, "She was obviously very distraught. She said she forgot the baby was in the car." Deleao had been with her sister, who apparently screamed, "Oh my God, you left the baby, you left the baby!"
While it's unclear how hot the car got, Wagner said it was "like an oven." The Bergen Record reports, "According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (NHTSA) the temperature in an unattended car - even on a warm day - can rise almost 20 degrees within the first 10 minutes." Deleao was charged with child endangerment, with bail set at $25,000. She was released under her own recognizance.
In 2009, the Washington Post's feature on distracted parents forgetting their children in cars, with fatal results, won a Pulitzer:
The wealthy do, it turns out. And the poor, and the middle class. Parents of all ages and ethnicities do it. Mothers are just as likely to do it as fathers. It happens to the chronically absent-minded and to the fanatically organized, to the college-educated and to the marginally literate. In the last 10 years, it has happened to a dentist. A postal clerk. A social worker. A police officer. An accountant. A soldier. A paralegal. An electrician. A Protestant clergyman. A rabbinical student. A nurse. A construction worker. An assistant principal. It happened to a mental health counselor, a college professor and a pizza chef. It happened to a pediatrician. It happened to a rocket scientist.