Little Gilbert girl gone in the sun

There’s a story that’s making local and national news.

It opens in Phoenix, Arizona. (Actually Gilbert, a Phoenix suburb, exploding growth, pricey, nice, middle-class, white, safe, historically Mormon area in the east Valley.)

It’s Tuesday, Sept. 3. It’s a (freaking) hot 110 F. (43.3 C).

A young couple with 3 kids. She’s at work. He’s at home, getting ready to go on vacation the next day.

The two oldest kids — a 4th grader and a kindergartner — are in school.

Their youngest daughter, 3 years old, named Charlie, aka C.J., is normally in school. But on this day, they decided to keep her home ahead of their vacation.

Father returns home morning-midday. Parks his black pickup truck in the driveway, in the blazing sun. Goes inside, does whatever.

Wife calls her husband.

Excerpt from transcript of the 911 (emergency dispatch) call:

“And he — I just called him at lunch break and I asked how (the child is) doing and he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Where’s (the 3-year-old girl)? Oh my God. Oh my God. Is — is she in the car (unintelligible)? And then he ran out there and she was in the car.”

He screams.

A neighbor across the street comes running.

Evidently the neighbor begins doing CPR.

The father is frantic. He’s also called 911. The dispatcher tries to keep him calm and instruct while emergency services rush to the scene.

The little girl is dead.

Because she sat in the car for 2 to 3 hours.

{Transcripts of each parent just released here.}

At 110 (43.3 C), it takes less than an hour for a vehicle’s interior to reach 155 (68.3 C). Imagine the interior after a few hours.

Actually don’t, if you wanna spare yourself a little heartbreak. As horrific the story and horrible to say, that father baked his daughter to death.

Unintentionally, yes.

But he has to live with this for the rest of his life.

What he did to his daughter through his negligence.

He has to live with what it’s doing to her mother, his wife … to his two other children. He has to live with what it’s done to their extended families.

He is in hell. The heaviest of nightmares and burden.

Many on social media have pointed out: “If it’d been his phone in the back seat, he wouldn’t have forgotten.”

This. Is. True. Sadly. Disgustingly. Pathetically.

Crime Scene: Seen

Yesterday I happened to be in the neighborhood. While neither their address nor names have been released, it’s not difficult to locate the house (house of death).

The expansive subdivision is plastered with pink ribbons — placed by neighbors around the white fences, trees, mailboxes, garden statues.

This ain’t your typical meth head trailer trash forgetting a child in a car.

This is a MONEYED area. Huge nice houses with 2 and more kids, 2 dogs, 2 cars in the garage. That there are tall green bushy TREES up and down the streets in this arid landscape signals affluence, families, wealth atypical of Phoenix but typical of Gilbert (and the better-known Scottsdale).

I follow my detective nose until it lands me at their house.

A large white poster adorns their front door. “We {heart} you” in pink writing — another message from the neighbors.

The white slatted blinds on multiple front windows are closed.

The one garage door sports plenty of pink paper hearts. In front of that garage door he’d parked his truck. The very truck that became a death chamber.

Gilbert truck

Dad’s truck where his daughter died in Gilbert, Arizona … where it was 110 degrees that September day

I’ve stared at that photo, empathetically imagining that poor little girl and her thoughts as she died her death. Heartbreaking.

The truck is no longer there. Gone too the yellow Crime Scene tapes around the property.

The house seems deathly still. Possibly, though unlikely, they’ve secluded themselves within their home — nice, spacious, air-conditioned.

A sharp contrast to the confining back seat of a child’s seat inside a black truck under an intense Arizona sun, in a heat that’s challenged or broken record after record this year.

Money may buy a wondrous home for a young family.

But it cannot buy you or a parent awareness, alertness or that INSTINCT that alerts when something’s amiss.

The cat that’s normally in the house isn’t. The kitchen faucet that’s normally quiet is now drip-drip-dripping. Things, often small and “innocuous” or pronounced and substantial that signal something’s wrong in this picture.

As human beings, we’re wired to be aware of our environments — subconsciously. We need not be consciously aware of EVERY detail all the time, that’d be serious stimulation OVERLOAD and render us unable to think or act!

This father failed to be aware of his environment, even instinctually — frightening. Unfortunately, it cost his daughter’s life. Painful irony is, his cell phone’s still alive.

It ought to be the other way around.

Revulsion & Compassion Collide

I pass the house slowly a few times but do not exit the car. It’s just so hot here in Phoenix, even in the evenings.

Even in temperate weather, however, I wouldn’t want prying eyes of neighbors were I to park and explore closer to the house.

More than social prudence and self-protectiveness, however, is this:

Emotions collide. I’m both revolted by the father and heartfully compassionate and empathetic toward that 3-year-old girl, trapped by her own father in his truck, trapped certainly in her car seat, and toward her immediate family, relatives and people peripheral.

The impact on that family / families … lordie, in his shoes, I don’t know how I could live with myself … or that I could live with myself.

I predict the family / their marriage will disintegrate or he may take his own life. Unless they are Mormon or religious, in which case they’ll have oodles of Church instruction and dictates to which they’ll adhere to survive. Happily, peacefully, not so much.

Authorities will determine whether there’ll be any charges or arrests. Absolutely there should be. This is worthy of the court’s time and clearly meets criminal statute: involuntary manslaughter, defined as an unintentional killing that results from criminal negligence or recklessness.

In his shoes, I’d want to be in prison, feel that I should be for my heinous negligence that killed my child. I’d also feel I no longer deserve my family and deserve confinement and suffering.

Cell Phones Before Creatures: Our New World

“Bet he wouldn’t have forgotten his cell phone if it’d been in the back seat.”

I share this popular sentiment.

I would not want to be in the shoes of any member of that family. The grief, the rage they must feel. To buy a casket for and bury her child … how rendered asunder must be the heart of that mother.

And her siblings, old enough to understand, old enough to be told “your sister’s not coming back because daddy did something bad.”

Little girl, whatever be your name, you and your dad have karma.

What went through your mind as you sat dying and baking in his black pickup truck, I cannot imagine.

I don’t know what kind of father he was generally. But he was a bad dad that day.

Pink ribbons can’t restore your life.

Wish I could say that they’ll wake up some other sleeping parent but the truth is they won’t. People will always kill their animals and children by confining them to metal boxes that are vehicles to do as they want, or must, in their minds.

Rest in Peace little girl in Gilbert, Arizona.


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