Another child was left in a hot car, but thankfully, this time, she was rescued. Still, this family's life has been turned upside down.
It happened outside of a Costco in Hackensack, New Jersey, not far from where I live, and the entire, unsettling incident was caught on video. The clip was posted to YouTube last summer, but has begun circulating again, as temperatures are again hitting dangerous heights in the Northeast.
You can see a crowd of concerned people gathering around a minivan. The day is "sweltering," according to the poster of the video.
"Baby, don't cry. We're going to get you out," one bystander assures the child inside. The crowd is trying to decide if they should break the glass to facilitate a rescue. A man is attempting to reach inside the window, which was left open just a crack.
Meanwhile, it's scary to imagine how hot the car is getting. According to experts, a hot car death can happen in as little as 20 minutes, as the air temperature inside a greenhouse-like vehicle may rise to 40 degrees higher than the outside air temperature.
In the video, we see the police have now arrived. As an officer breaks a window of the minivan, you can hear a child crying. "Is she okay?" a mom parked in the adjoining space asks.
Soon another officer removes an adorable little toddler from the car. "She's soaking wet," she announces, as she attempts to comfort the child.
Seconds later, a mom with another small child pushes her shopping cart up to the scene. "Is this your kid?" the officer demands.
"I'm sorry," replies the mom, simply.
"No 'sorry.' She could have died!" yells the officer.
While it's not totally clear whether the mom, Chaeyoung Lim-Kim, knowingly left the tot in the van while she shopped, the cracked window and the fact that she had another child with her seem to suggest so. And NJ.com reports that she was subsequently arrested and charged with child endangerment. That's awful, of course. But here's what would have been worse: If her child had died. It's a real possibility. In the last 15 years, nearly 700 young children have died in hot cars. The majority of them were left in the car accidentally, after being forgotten by an exhausted, overwhelmed, or distracted parent/caregiver. That's why it's so incredibly sad to see a child left intentionally in this situation.
So while this video was brutal to watch, maybe it will stick in just one parent's mind the next time he or she considers leaving a child inside the car to run a quick errand.
What's your reaction to this disturbing video?
Editor's Note: This post was updated 8/2 to clarify story details.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.