KARIE DOZER

Final Word: Could smartphones be contributing to hot car deaths?

Jun 30, 2014, 10:07 PM | Updated: 10:07 pm

Justin Harris is being charged with murder and child cruelty in the case of the death of his son, Cooper.

Cooper died June 18 in suburban Atlanta after his dad left him in the back seat of the family SUV.

His dad says he forgot to drop him off at day care that morning and instead drove to work and parked his car for seven hours. At one point during the day, he even went out to his car to put something in it and closed the door again.

Harris is now in jail and was unable to attend his son’s funeral.

Some people are OK with that.

Evidence unearthed in search warrants show that Cooper’s dad AND mom searched the Internet for “what happens when a baby is left in a hot car?”, but the warrants don’t specify when those searches were performed.

Both parents say they were simply doing research because they were curious and afraid. I sure hope those searches were a crazy coincidence and that they did not happen the week before the accident.

I’ll let the police figure that out.

But if it turns out the searches were innocent and Cooper’s dad really did just make a terribly fatal mental error, I feel for him. I also feel for Cooper’s mom, who says, for the record, she is not angry with her husband for his actions.

That’s a tough one.

If she’s not angry with him, how can I be angry with him?
But I have a theory.

I think that our smartphone lifestyle is contributing to the numbers of babies left in hot cars by otherwise well-meaning parents.

When my kids were little, I had a phone. It was a Motorola flip phone. It didn’t do anything except call and text. I couldn’t take videos of my kids and post them to Facebook, that’s for sure. Sometimes I wish I could have.

But then I think about how distracting that handheld computer can be, and I think, “Maybe it’s better that I got to parent without it.” I sure didn’t get distracted enough by Facebook or Twitter or Candy Crush to forget a kid in the backseat. It wasn’t possible.

I’m not saying that’s what happened to Justin Harris, but I bet it’s happened to others. Maybe at the very least our smartphone should ride with our babies in the backseat.

Then we won’t forget them.

Karie Dozer

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Final Word: Could smartphones be contributing to hot car deaths?