In a Summer of way too many babies being left in hot cars, one case stood out from the others. Video of Hannah Secondi discovering that she left her 1-year-old child in the car with all of the windows and doors closed on a 95-degree day while she shopped in her local Owasso, OK, Walmart for at least 45 minutes left us floored and angry.
At the time, Secondi was arrested for child abuse and was held on $50,000 bond. This week, she pleaded guilty to charges of child neglect and a judge gave her a two-year deferred sentence while ordering her to attend DHS parenting classes and to pay court costs.
Thankfully, Secondi's daughter, who was found by a couple who left the store almost an hour earlier than the mother, was OK. At the time, they told reporters that they heard a faint noise coming out of a minivan and went to see what it was. After seeing the baby and breaking into the car, they called medics, who determined that the girl's internal temperature was over 100 degrees and the temperature inside the car was 120-138 degrees. The video, taken on a body cam attached to one of the arresting officers, shows Secondi frantically asking if her daughter is still alive.
I don't know what it is going to take to prevent parents from "forgetting" their children in their cars. A parent who's been through it says it is called a fundamental attribution error, and it can happen to anyone. I'm not so sure about that. There are car seats being designed to alert parents and there are tips for preventing it from happening, but when it does occur, it seems to me that stiff punishment should certainly be in the mix. Sure, living with the knowledge that you almost killed your baby along with child parenting classes and a deferred sentence will help a parent think about their actions (or inaction in this case), but to me, this is blatant child abuse — premeditated or not. The punishment should follow suit.