According to a Loudoun County Sheriff’s deputy, two children were left in a hot car at an Ashburn shopping plaza while their mother or guardian was inside grocery shopping.
It happened around 4 p.m. today at the Ashburn Farm Market Center, known to many as Junction Plaza. A passer-by apparently noticed the children inside a green minivan. It’s unclear if they were in distress, but the good Samaritan called 911. Multiple sheriff’s vehicles and an ambulance descended on the parking lot in front of the Giant grocery store. The children — an elementary school age girl and a baby — were removed from the vehicle while their adult was located in the store and brought out. While the children were crying and upset, they appeared to be OK physically.
At the time this happened, it was 84 degrees in Ashburn. According to the organization Kids and Cars, on average 37 children die each year in the United States from being left in a hot car. Cracking windows does nothing to slow the rise of temperatures and a car can heat up to 125 degrees within minutes. Kids have died of heatstroke in vehicles when the outside temperatures were as low as 60 degrees.
While in today’s incident in Ashburn, it appears the parent or guardian chose to leave the children in the car, many times heatstroke deaths happen when a child is unintentionally left in a vehicle. Maybe the parent was on the phone dealing with a problem at work, or they thought the other parent removed the child from the car, or their morning routine was different that day. Many parents think this could never happen to them — that they are too careful and that it only happens to bad parents or careless parents or unloving parents. That is unequivocally wrong. It has happened to a doctor. It has happened to a school principal. It has happened to rocket scientist. It has happened to hundreds of loving parents — and it could happen to you.
If you have a young child in your family — perhaps a new baby, a toddler, even a grandchild — we beg you to take a few minutes and read Gene Weingarten’s Pulitzer Prize-winning article “Fatal Distraction.” It could save a precious life.