Skip Nav
For Moms
Sometimes the Best Parents Are the Ones With the Screaming Kid
Viral Videos
This Doritos Super Bowl Ad Explains Why Some Husbands Really Don't Belong in the Delivery Room
Birth
You've Probably Never Seen a Baby Born Inside Its Amniotic Sac Before — and It's Breathtaking

Mom Whose Child Died in Hot Car Speaks Out

"It's Called a Fundamental Attribution Error" Says Mom Whose Toddler Died in Hot Car

Less than two months after Lindsey Rogers-Seitz's 15-month-old son, Benjamin, died of hyperthermia after being left in his father's car all day, the mother is issuing a warning to all parents and pushing for technological safeguards that would prevent future tragedies.

Benjamin Seitz died on July 7 after his father forgot to drop him off at daycare, instead driving straight to work and not realizing his mistake until he went to pick his son up at the end of the day. The temperature that day reached 90 degrees and humidity was high. Appearing on Today this morning, Rogers-Seitz said, "Unfortunately, we really are proof that it can happen to any American. To all the listeners, we could be you, your best friend, your parent, the neighbor down the street."

This year, at least 24 children have died of hot-car-related incidents. Rogers-Seitz is calling on car manufacturers to install devices that alert drivers when interior temperatures reach a certain number. Regarding parents who say they would never forget their child in the car, Rogers-Seitz says,

"It's called a fundamental attribution error. It's a psychological term, and what I ask those parents to do is answer the question: have you ever driven to work and forgotten how you've got there? Have you ever walked through your living room to your bedroom and forgot what you were going to get? It can happen in a second and your life is changed forever. It's a tragedy."

Front Page Image Source: Corbis Images

Around The Web

POPSUGAR, the #1 independent media and technology company for women. Where more than 75 million women go for original, inspirational content that feeds their passions and interests.

Join The Conversation
JAM282 JAM282 1 year

I think that is not only callous and unhelpful, but just plain wrong. No one says it is "acceptable" -- and I am sure these parents do not "accept" it, and live with guilt everyday. But doctors and neuroscientists agree that each of us has inherent limitations on our brain function and how much stimuli it can receive before it triggers a memory lapse (which in these cases leads to catastrophe). We can't choose for this to happen only to trivial things (oops, left my briefcase at work!) vs. vitally important things (a child), the brain doesn't work that way, and it does no good to deny this reality. In fact, your sentimeint may do more harm than good to say "no good parent could ever do this" -- when in fact, many people who had that attitude become victims of these tragedies, along with their children. As to the seatbelt issue, that is a strict liability offense, whereas murder requires intent, and most parents do not INTEND to kill their kids (those that do are prosecuted accordingly). The best way to avoid future tragedies is to acknolwedge it and do things to help (e.g. instruct daycare to call if child is late, etc.) That is how lives are saved, not by callous judgments of others who had the misfortune to feel they were not susceptible to such risks.

JAM282 JAM282 1 year

It actually is not murder, legally speaking. Murder requires intent, which is lacking in these horrible cases. In fact, medical professionals and neuroscientists say that each of us has inherent limitations on our brain function and how much stimuli it can receive before it triggers a memory lapse (which in these cases leads to catastrophe), so it not only possible, but a real danger for even the most well-intentioned parents. It does no good to deny this reality, and in fact may do more harm to say "nope, no good parent could ever do this, case closed" -- when in fact, many people who had that attitude become victims of these tragedies, along with their children. The best way to protect kids is to say, "what can parents do to avoid such horrible, unintended tragedies?", and follow that protocol (e.g. put your phone, purse, or shoe in the backseat so you are forced to check EVERY time you leave the car; have daycare call EVERY time the kid is late, etc.). That is how lives are saved, not by callous judgments of others who had the misfortune to feel they were not susceptible to such risks.

JAM282 JAM282 1 year

That is not a very helpful sentiment. Medical professionals and neuroscientists agree that each of us has inherent limitations on our brain function and how much stimuli it can receive before it triggers a memory lapse (which in these cases leads to catastrophe), so it most certainly is not B.S., but a real danger that has the potential to take future lives. It does no good to deny or deride this reality, and in fact may do more harm to say "nope, no good parent could ever do this, case closed" -- when in fact, many people who had that attitude become victims of these tragedies, along with their children. The best way to protect kids is to say, "what can parents do to avoid such horrible, unintended tragedies?", and follow that protocol (e.g. put your phone, purse, or shoe in the backseat so you are forced to check EVERY time you leave the car; have daycare call EVERY time the kid is late, etc.). That is how lives are saved, not by callous judgments of others who had the misfortune to feel they were not susceptible to such risks.

JAM282 JAM282 1 year

No one is claiming stress is a "reason" for "neglecting" your kids -- if that is your take-away, you aren't paying attention. Rather, stress can trigger a glitch in the brain that causes a memory lapse, involuntarily, leading to these incidents. See for example, the discussion in the above-cited Washington Post article (which I am not sure you even read?) of a father whose car motion sensor was going off at work. From his window he saw no one in the parking lot near his car, so he deactivated the alarm. It was his son in the carseat triggering the alarm -- the boy was found dead at the end of dad's workday. But you see, IN HIS MIND he had dropped his baby off that day, like every other day, not realizing that in reality, he got distracted, went on autopilot, and drove straight to work. It didnt' even occur to this dad that his child was not at daycare, otherwise of course he would have not left him in the car! Fact is, the human brain is fallible and highly susceptible to errors (especially where stress, fatigue, routine changes, emotional triggers, etc. are factors), and this can and does lead to tragic accidents, even for the most well-meaning, loving, otherwise capable parents who (like you) say "that could never happen to ME." That alone should tell you the article, and the analysis by medical doctors/neuroscientists, is not 'crap', but a reason for people to use backup measures (e.g., have daycare call if the kid doesn't show up; put your wallet/purse/phone in the backseat so it is routine to reach back and see the kid, etc.), to overcome the inherent limitations on brains that may be trying to process too much on a given day with a given set of stimuli. But go ahead and judge -- your derision does no good for anyone and does nothing to prevent future tragedies.

KiraWright1364950772 KiraWright1364950772 1 year

This article is crap. Everyone goes through stressful events like this at some point. There is no reason to not take your baby out of the car. If you put him in the car, you know he is there. Whether he is screaming or being dead silent, you should know that you did not take your baby out of the car. My son gets out of the car, sleeping or not, even if I am just running into the gas station to throw twenty bucks on my pump.

AmandaSchenker1392323518 AmandaSchenker1392323518 1 year

I must say I agree, Cheyanne. Reading/watching this (the TODAY piece), I kept remembering another case, in Atlanta, from earlier this summer. Those parents were prosecuted. I truly can't understand this, either.
Maybe because our son is so vocal and noisy, most all the time, I can't imagine forgetting he's there.
Still, my heart breaks for them.

KristieCaballero KristieCaballero 1 year

Exactly! Relying on technology to remember everything for us is probably why our brains are becoming useless mush. We don't need more, we need less.

JenD8513 JenD8513 1 year

Wow, if a parent is so forgetful that they leave their child in the car, then it's too bad they didn't just leave the child at home. At least the child would not fry to death. Leaving them home alone is negligent but I know my 2 year old would climb into the pantry and get food, drink water from the faucet and hang out with the dog.

'Forgetting' your child in the car is murder...plain and simple. Yes, it's in quotes because I don't believe anyone forgets a child. Loose them, yes....forget, no.

Mary-GraceWeir1372388603 Mary-GraceWeir1372388603 1 year

Its because we have too much crap going on in our culture, too much stuff going on in our heads stuff that is meaningless. Two parents working, kids in daycare, Cell phones , mindless television shows, YouTube, facebook, getting our nails done, going to Zumba or lifting weights, listening to mindless talk shows and or music on XMRadio and on and on. And what matters most , the LIFE of a child sitting in the back seat of our car, gets pushed back into the sub conscience. We need to slow down and weed out by the roots all the nothingness that we give so much toooo mush attention to. Make our lives simple. Stay home with your children, cook good meals, talk to eachother, go to Church together, pray together daily. Be aware of the value of each precious life we are responsible for. Keep it simple! breathe!

SyndellLayton SyndellLayton 1 year

If parents stopped being so self absorbed with their social media and phones maybe they'd pay more attention. It's NOT that hard to remember your kid! When a child is left in a hot car and dies it should be treated the same as a parent leaving an infant at home alone in a crib and partying all night while their house burns down. They should be charged with abandonment and negligent homicide. Their rights for any other child in their care should be stripped and they should be sterilized.

JuliaMartinez29707 JuliaMartinez29707 1 year

I have three children and have never forgotten one anywhere. They are now 7, 9, & 12, and I still check the back of the car. I check to make sure they are walking with me, never behind me. I make sure they are accounted for at all times, and even when things were rough and not "normal" I checked on them. As a parent my job is to keep my kids safe and I took and still take that job very seriously. I cannot imagine losing a child, but I also don't know that forgiveness of my spouse would come easily, killing my child. As for the article that is being quoted in the comments, when my kids were in the car, driving was the most important thing, not talking on the phone. I truly do not understand how you can forget your child, no matter how your day is going, no matter how quiet the child is, no matter where the car seat is.

ValarieMitchner ValarieMitchner 1 year

I can honestly say I do not understand how anyone could forget a child in the car. If it is a medical condition that will allow a parent to be that forgetful then they do not need any. There is NO excuse, point blank period!!!!! As a mother of 4, this is heart breaking!!!

FrancinePrevost FrancinePrevost 1 year

So is that an excuse to say I forgot my child was in the car with me? As responsible parents, there should be no reasons or excuses to forget a child in a car, if that is the case there maybe too many distractions for you to concentrate on driving let alone forgetting a child in the back seat.

RachaelNelson RachaelNelson 1 year

I think its all excuses. If you truly loved that kid you would have remembered. I forgot is not exceptable. You can't get away with it when you get pulled over for a seat belt but if you forget your kid in the car its okay.

dewasalihi1361576029 dewasalihi1361576029 1 year

A child is not a random object. Regardless of anything else going on in someone's life, if you choose to have a child that should be your 1st priority. I am sick of people making excuses. That poor baby suffered terribly thanks to a moron who is making excuses. If you can't take care of your child, it is simple, don't have kids.

JAM282 JAM282 1 year

Huh? You mean the husband that was serving overseas? Also, I would say it is less 'stupidity' and more exhaustion, stress and change of routine impacting the matter (granted, you cannot 'regulate' that away either, but let's not make it seem like this is only a mistake committed by those with a low IQ).

JAM282 JAM282 1 year

From the article: "On the day Balfour forgot Bryce in the car, she had been up much of the night, first babysitting for a friend who had to take her dog to an emergency vet clinic, then caring for Bryce, who was cranky with a cold. Because the baby was also tired, he uncharacteristically dozed in the car, so he made no noise. Because Balfour was planning to bring Bryce’s usual car seat to the fire station to be professionally installed, Bryce was positioned in a different car seat that day, not behind the passenger but behind the driver, and was thus not visible in the rear-view mirror. Because the family’s second car was on loan to a relative, Balfour drove her husband to work that day, meaning the diaper bag was in the back, not on the passenger seat, as usual, where she could see it. Because of a phone conversation with a young relative in trouble, and another with her boss about a crisis at work, Balfour spent most of the trip on her cell, stressed, solving other people’s problems. Because the babysitter had a new phone, it didn’t yet contain Balfour’s office phone number, only her cell number, meaning that when the sitter phoned to wonder why Balfour hadn’t dropped Bryce off that morning, it rang unheard in Balfour’s pocketbook."
That is how one might forget.

JAM282 JAM282 1 year

From the article: "On the day Balfour forgot Bryce in the car, she had been up much of the night, first babysitting for a friend who had to take her dog to an emergency vet clinic, then caring for Bryce, who was cranky with a cold. Because the baby was also tired, he uncharacteristically dozed in the car, so he made no noise. Because Balfour was planning to bring Bryce’s usual car seat to the fire station to be professionally installed, Bryce was positioned in a different car seat that day, not behind the passenger but behind the driver, and was thus not visible in the rear-view mirror. Because the family’s second car was on loan to a relative, Balfour drove her husband to work that day, meaning the diaper bag was in the back, not on the passenger seat, as usual, where she could see it. Because of a phone conversation with a young relative in trouble, and another with her boss about a crisis at work, Balfour spent most of the trip on her cell, stressed, solving other people’s problems. Because the babysitter had a new phone, it didn’t yet contain Balfour’s office phone number, only her cell number, meaning that when the sitter phoned to wonder why Balfour hadn’t dropped Bryce off that morning, it rang unheard in Balfour’s pocketbook."
So go ahead and be judgmental, throw parents like this in jail if you ever sit on a jury -- but I fail to see how it would be 'justice' and it certainly won't help the next kid when atypical stresses and routine changes cause the stars to align against a well-meaning parent for long enough to result in their child's death.

Latest Moms
X