On June 18th, 2014 Justin Ross Harris left his 22-month old son Cooper in his vehicle for 7 hours. The results were tragic, Cooper died of hyperthermia. Harris maintains that this was an accident, while prosecutors present evidence that portrays him as a heartless killer. How could such an accident even be possible? It’s more common than any one of us even can even imagine.
Recently I’ve heard many campaigns warning pet owners about the dangers of leaving pets in hot cars. I’ve always assumed this was a conscious act on the part of the pet owner. How could you simply forget that you have a living, moving, sound emanating creature with you? Well, when it comes to the case of parents leaving kids in their cars we are expected to believe just that. In the case of Justin Ross Harris he watched television with his son, ate breakfast with him at a fast food restaurant, and then instead of dropping him off at daycare,which was not an uncommon practice, he instead drove himself to work. He went about his regular actives which included sexting multiple women, remembered to buy light bulbs which he put into his vehicle, presumably as to not forget them at his job. He even made plans to see a movie after work. It wasn’t even until he drove a short distance that he finally realized that his son was in the car. That is the story that Harris would like the police to believe, but the evidence suggests otherwise.
If Justin Ross Harris did plan to kill his own son he apparently put little thought into covering up what would be perceived as intent to commit a crime. Anyone who has watched a single episode of Law and Order knows that the first things that police check are telephones and computers. Harris did not do well on either front. His telephone records show that he sexted with multiple women, none of which were his wife, but one who was a 16 year old girl. If I was committing a crime and knew that my phone records would be scrutinized I might want to hold off on actives that shed a negative light on me. Recent computer search histories showed topics like child free living and animal deaths due to being in hot cars. Searches that if not conducted as research for a crime turned out to be terribly prophetic.
Just today another child lost its life after being forgotten in a hot car. This foster father of a 10-month old girl left her in the car for two hours before remembering he forgot to bring her inside. The details of this case are not fully known yet, though it was stated that he did bring his 5 year old child who was also in the car inside with him. Another senseless and preventable death to add to the growing statistics of heat related car deaths.
A parent that accidentally causes his child’s death must live in a constant state of unrelenting torment. A parent that purposely causes the death of his child must be punished to the the fullest extent of the law. In the case of Justin Ross Harris I hope that this was not a planned criminal act. To think that a parent could take their child’s life in such a cruel act is beyond comprehension. If anything positive can come from all these tragedies I hope it will remind parents that when caring for a child, whether crossing the street or driving in a car, to give your child your full attention so that we don’t have to read another tragic story tomorrow.