The Haunting

I have always tried to be very honest and open in my blog entries...."keeping it real" some might say. This entry is about as real as one can get. Some portions of this incident have become fuzzy with the passing of time but it is the best that I can remember of the event....an event that occurred well over a decade ago.
It was an early Spring day in Manchester, NH. I was working as an investigator with the Public Defenders Program at the time. The temperatures was in the low 60s. It was noon time or thereabouts. Myself along with 2-3 colleagues were going to lunch. We were walking towards our parking lot, where our cars are parked, approximately 3 city blocks away from our office building. We had just turned left out of the building in which we worked in and had walked for 2-3 minutes at the absolute most. They were parked cars along the street to our right hand side and as I was walking past a parked vehicle, I noticed that there was a child in the back seat. I mentioned it to my friends and we stopped at the car and looked in. The car windows were rolled up and the car was locked. We looked around and figured that the child's parent(s) had gone into the apartment building that this car was parked in front of and would return shortly. I remember that the child was a boy and was dressed in some bib overalls with a shirt underneath. The child looked like he was sleeping. We decided to walk up another 1/2 block, which is where the Manchester Police Department was located. We went in and told the front desk/reception person what we saw, gave them our names and where we worked at. We left and went about our business. Upon returning to work, we later heard that the babysitter who was taking care of this child, had run into the courthouse, which is across the street from where the car was parked and that she had left the child sleeping in the back seat of the car. We also learned that the child had died. The child was no more than 2 maybe 2 1/2 years old...possibly 3 at the most. An autopsy was done on the child where an approximate bracket time was given for this child's death and for the cause of his death...heatstroke. The bracket time estimated that the child died during a period of time prior to me first seeing him until around the time that I first noticed him in the backseat of the car. I have been laboring with the thought that it might have been possible, that I could have saved this child's life. That maybe the bracket time was off just a little bit. Although we lightly knocked on the windows and got no response from the child, leading us to believe that the child was soundly sleeping, thinking that the temperature outside was not warm at all....should I have just broke out the windows of the car or was going directly to the Police Dept, which was a 2 minute walk from where the child was and reporting what I saw enough...was our actions or should I say my actions...were they sufficient...were they proper...did I handle the whole thing wrong...was the child still alive when I saw him but thinking he was sleeping...was he actually asleep at that time or had he already died based on the autopsy bracket time. I wake up every day not knowing what the truth is...I will never know......this is MY inescapable haunting that I carry with me.

The babysitter was later charged with the death of this child...

10 comments:

Literary Nut said...

Wow hun, that would haunt me too. I don't think you should blame yourself though, you weren't the one who left that poor child in a locked car and you did at least try to get him help. You had no way of knowing that the situation was as serious as it ended up being and the fault likes entirely with the person who left them in the car like that in the first place. I know my words may not bring you much comfort or any certainty, but I definitely don't think you should blame yourself at all.

CIS said...

Wow man. Touching story. No doubt something that will haunt you forever. How do you shake something like that? Perhaps you aren't meant to. Perhaps in the sharing of it, you have made someone think and as a result saved a life or two, or more.

Sally's World said...

gosh, what an awful thing for you to live with, i'm sure that you did the right thing, the same thing any of us would have done. it must haunt you, but i think you need to let it go and forgive yourself,i'm sure there was nothing you could have done. i know you probably want proof of that, but you just need to believe it in your heart.

Tanna said...

Thank you for sharing your story, Rick. You are right. You will never know. We all have regrets in our lives; later, knowing how things end up, we wish we had done something differently. The thing is... had you had ANY idea that that child would die; you know, without a doubt, you would have acted in a way to change the outcome. But, you had no reason to believe that a tradegy was occuring. You took responsible steps. It is sad. It was not your fault. Please forgive yourself for what you wish you had done. Let go. (Like this is really any of my business... forgive my rambling. And, thank you again for sharing with us.)

Dave said...

Thank you for sharing, even though it was obviously hard to do. Maybe by you passing it on the burden will be lighter. Knowing that by raising peoples awareness to the dangers of leaving a child in a parked car, it may save the life of another infant in the future.

♥ Kathy said...

Oh that is the saddest thing I've ever heard :( That poor baby. How can people leave their children in the car? It wasn't your fault.

I don't like to see dogs locked in cars either.

kanmuri said...

Such a sad story. Here in Japan, it happens at least 4 ot 5 times every summer. People leave their kids in the car and go gambling...

Maybe you could have saved the kid, maybe not. Don't torture your mind with something you can't change anymore.

Mojag said...

How very sad that someone would leave a child like that.
I have to agree with "CIS", in sharing, you have likely enfluenced others and saved others, even in the future.
You 3 acted, and rightly so, on the info you had at the time.
I should think the child had already passed and you were meant to see this so you would do as you did and tell others, there by saving others.

I know this doesn't help, when a person cares as you do but it is the best way I can say it.

budh.aaah said...

Sad doesnt describe how I feel right now, but one thing I can write is -it wasnt your fault. Pl dont blame yourself.

Teaching The Teacher said...

I find it irresponsible of parents or other caregivers of children to leave their child in the car, no matter what the temperature is. You did the right thing telling the police. What else could you have done anyhow that would have changed things? Please know that you and your friends did the right thing at the time.

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