By Elia Petzierides
It was a hectic morning for Andrea Boe, mother of two and matriarch of a self-described average American family with both parents working full time. Before arriving at work on 28th June 2006 she had fed her youngest daughter – five-month-old Kate Lola Boe – and dressed her in a new pink dress.
Kate was sound asleep when her father buckled her up in her baby capsule. Mrs Boe then carried Kate in the capsule to her minivan and secured the capsule in the backseat, behind the driver’s seat.
This day was different to any other. Mrs Boe’s oldest daughter had the day off childcare. Instead of dropping each daughter off at their respective childcare centres before work as she had done many times before, Mrs Boe only needed to drop off Kate. Her routine was broken, and on the way to work her mind jumped between her ‘to do list’ for work and home as she drove on autopilot.
The day at work was busy and Mrs Boe did not return to her minivan until the end of the day. She had no reason to because in her mind she had dropped Kate off on the way to work. At the end of the day Mrs Boe drove to Kate’s childcare centre to pick her up and cannot remember much of what ensued. She remembers people trying to resuscitate Kate. Their attempts were unsuccessful. Kate died aged five months, wearing her new pink dress.
Mrs Boe lives with the “agonising disbelief” that she had forgotten to drop Kate off at childcare in the morning, instead inadvertently driving straight to work leaving Kate in the minivan where she died of hyperthermia. Kate suffered the same fate that 15 to 25 children suffer each year in the United States. An interrupted routine a common reoccurring theme in many of these deaths.
In Victoria, Australia, in the wake of what appears to be a similar catastrophe, debate is raging between two opposing camps. On one side those who recognise this as a possible lapse of memory, and on the other those who see this as an act of neglect and blame the parent or caregiver for the death, believing it will never happen to them or any other caring parent.
While the debate continues one thing is clear, blame is an insurmountable obstacle for the prevention movement. And without prevention, we will fail in our duty to avert reoccurrences.
The author Elia Petzierides is a Victorian based Advanced Life Support Paramedic and a Registered Nurse with a Graduate Diploma in Advanced Clinical Nursing.
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