For second time in 24 hours, a toddler left in a car dies

For second straight day, a baby dies when left in a vehicle for hours in the West Bank; Police believe baby's father left her in car.

July 15, 2013 15:42
4 minute read.

MDA Ambulance. (photo credit: WIkicommons)

An infant died on Monday after being left behind in a car for several hours by a parent, the second such incident in 24 hours.

The father of the two-yearold girl was attending a business meeting in the settlement of Dolev, where the family lives. He also runs an educational institution there.

He realized his mistake only when his wife called at around 1 p.m. to tell him that she was at the daycare center to pick up the couple’s other child and noticed that their two-year-old had never arrived.

The father, in a panic, raced to the car, where he found the infant in critical condition.

Paramedics were called to the scene and evacuated her to Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Tzrifin while trying to revive her. Hospital doctors pronounced her dead upon arrival.

Emanuel Stern, one of the Magen David Adom paramedics who responded, said that when they arrived the child was unconscious and not breathing. There was no sign of a pulse and showed symptoms of heat stroke.

Officer Avi Hazen of the Modi’in Illit police station said the authorities did not yet know whether they would open an investigation into the father’s conduct, saying that at the moment they had decided to let the family be alone in its sorrow.

“This is a tragic incident that can’t be expressed in words,” Hazen said. “We ask everyone to pay more attention to their kids, for everyone to pay attention and if a child doesn’t show up at daycare, to call the parents.”

Idit Gotlieb, a spokeswoman for the settlement, described the parents and children as a “very well-known, normative family that had lived in the community for many years.”

Only a day earlier, not far from Dolev, a five-month-old baby’s life was cut short when left in a car for seven hours in the settlement of Shilo.

According to police, that infant had also been left in the car by the father. On July 1, a nine-month-old baby died in Ramat Gan when her father left her in the family vehicle for eight hours.

MK Orly Levy-Abecassis (Yisrael Beytenu), head of the children’s rights caucus in the Knesset, called on the Transportation Ministry to require the installation of preventive devices in cars in order to keep additional cases from happening. Levy-Abecassis also presented a bill to the Knesset last week that would require daycare workers to call parents in the event that their children do not arrive.

During a meeting of the caucus two months ago, figures were presented indicating that in 2012 there had been 50 cases of children left behind in cars. Ten were infants, two of whom died.

During that meeting, Levy- Abecassis called for the caucus to prepare a bill to consider such infant deaths as traffic accidents in order to encourage insurance companies to demand that preventive devices be installed in cars.

Such devices can cost around NIS 1,000, the caucus said in a press release on Monday. They require the driver to circle the car, checking each door, before leaving.

MK Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid) echoed Levy-Abecassis’s sentiments, noting that she planned to work with her colleague to promote the new bill.

“This situation cannot continue even one minute,” Elharar said.

Likewise on Monday, Transportation Minister Israel Katz and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu jointly stressed the importance of promoting such technology in order to prevent parental forgetfulness and neglect. The two decided that the new system would be included as part of the tax benefits and incentives currently provided for vehicle safety system installations, and Netanyahu ordered the necessary budget drawn up.

Two weeks ago, according to Katz, the Transportation Ministry turned to the Israel Standards Institute to formulate guidelines for an electronic system that would alert parents that a child was still in the vehicle.

Following the latest tragedies, the minister ordered his staff to speed up the process so that installation could begin as soon as possible.

Katz also said the ministry planned to make the system mandatory for all vehicles carrying school children, and for the issuance of all licenses to transport these children.

An additional standard is also currently in the works that would require bus drivers to perform a comprehensive sweep of their vehicles before concluding their journeys and locking the bus doors.

Katz instructed all fleet managers and traffic safety officers to refine their safety rules and include the issue of children being left behind, stressing that the subject should also be integrated into theoretical driving courses.

Meanwhile, in coordination with the Transportation Ministry, the National Road Safety Authority will launch in the coming days an extensive campaign to increase awareness among parents and the general public about the issue of neglecting children in vehicles, the ministry said.

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