TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s a sad statistic. 29 children have been left in hot cars and died so far this year in the United States.
The most recent case is here in the Tampa Bay area. Hillsborough County firefighter Troy Whitaker faces charges after his toddler son died when Whitaker left him in a hot car Friday for more than 8 hours.
Psychologists say this could happen to anyone.
“There’s actually something called ‘forgotten baby syndrome’ that one of the USF professors has coined that term. Really, it’s saying that everyone forgets something. Sometimes when we change our routine we can actually forget our child, which is one of our most valuable possessions,” said Dr. Nekeshia Hammond.
“There’s so many times when we focus on, we are just one auto pilot. So we just go through our day, we may miss an exit or get home and say, ‘I forgot to go to the store’ and those sorts of things. And that is exactly what is happening sometimes with parents who are leaving their children in cars,” added Hammond.
For Whitaker, questions surround the fact that he wouldn’t take a blood test. Investigators said Whitaker told them he sometimes smokes marijuana. Although he denied smoking it the day Lawson died.
“Absolutely with many different substances that can definitely impact your attention, your concentration, your memory. So that’s something the investigators are going to have to keep in mind,” said Dr. Hammond.
And Dr. Hammond explains there are many other factors that can contribute to forgetfulness.
“The stress can really, can impact your memory, your attention, you concentration your mood, so many things are impacted by our stress level. So especially during that time, it’s really important to make sure your children are in place and that you have them with you,” said Hammond.