This past Saturday afternoon, my wife and I returned home from shopping and noticed six of our neighbors in the next-door driveway, crowding around a new Mercedes SUV. At first, we thought someone had recently purchased it, and folks were gathering to admire. As it turned out, our neighbor's visitors were packing up the vehicle and getting ready to leave when their 6-month-old baby was accidentally locked in the car. The key fob was in the mom's purse, and it too was locked inside.
When we arrived, the baby had been in the car for over 10 minutes in the 99-degree heat. Those surrounding the vehicle were blaming the new electronics on cars, or how manufacturers should create a method making it easier to open doors, but they took no action.
The car had tinted windows, and I asked the mom (who was hysterical) where the baby was seated. After she told me, I grabbed a hammer, went to the opposite side of the car, and smashed the door window. My wife removed the blanketed baby from the back seat, took it inside to the air-conditioned house, and started administering first aid.
Meanwhile, 9-1-1 was called, and the Round Rock/Williamson County paramedics arrived eight minutes later. Part of the team went inside to attend the baby, and another fireman took the cabin temperature from the SUV. The reading was 138 degrees, and that was after the car doors were opened for nearly 10 minutes.
The baby is fine. The mom is grateful, and the Sheriff had a private conversation with the parents about the incident. No charges were filed, and it is being considered an accident.
The reason for my post and concern is that this can happen to anyone…Further, it is the most frightening thing that one can experience; literally, life and death.
Many of us do have key fobs for our vehicles. If you have ever been unintentionally locked out of your vehicle at a grocery store, school, or gas station, you will understand. Please take the time to do a “what if” scenario and have a re-entry plan at the ready.
P.S. As much as I am frustrated with the lack of response from the SUV onlookers, their immobilized behavior does have a name; it’s called the Bystander Effect/Genovese Syndrome. Its name came from a case in New York City in the 1960s where a woman was brutally attacked, and nearly 40 people heard her cries for help and did nothing to assist. She later died.