Car Safety

Father’s Important Message, One Year After Son’s Hot Car Death

This time last year, Sydney father Newaz Hasan thought he had dropped his three-year-old son at daycare. The father was used to the morning routine which included the school and daycare drop off followed by working from home. However, on this particular day, Hasan had left his younger son in his car.

It is a mistake that will haunt the heartbroken father for the rest of his life.

three-year-old dies in hot car in sydney
Hasan discovered his son after accidentally leaving him in a hot car.Source: Twitter

His son, Aariq was found unconscious later that afternoon and, despite performing CPR, the three-year-old was pronounced dead on the scene. 

Nearly one year after the hot car death tragedy, Hasan speaks out about life without Aariq and how a $40 device may have saved his son’s life. He is also calling for the federal government to introduce legislation that would make child detection technology mandatory in all cars.

Brain on auto-pilot

Hasan admits, that before that awful day in February, he believed he would never be someone who could accidentally leave a child in a car. 

“Like any other person, I still struggle to make sense of it. I still don’t know how it happened,” he said. “Every parent should know forgotten baby syndrome exists, and anyone can be impacted by it.”

Hasan recalls what happened that day when temperatures soared to around 30C. Like countless times before, Hasan was dropping his two sons off in the morning. He dropped his older son off at his primary school and then headed to drop his younger son off at his family daycare. 

three year old dies in hot car death
Source: Facebook

“Usually I talk to Aariq while driving, but on the day he was sleeping,” Hasan said. “I think that silence just made me forget he was there.”

On the way to drop Aariq at the family daycare, Hasan stopped to get some petrol.

“There is a turn where if you take a left and drive one minute it’s my son’s carer’s home and if you drive right for one minute it’s our home,” Hasan said.

Due to the silence in the back seat and acting on autopilot, Hasan turned right and went home to start his workday. It wasn’t until Hasan picked his other son up at school that he realised Aariq was in the backseat. 

“When my son opened the rear door to get in he screamed with the name of my little son,” Hasan said. “I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was completely shattered. My world just stopped. I called triple zero and started CPR but it was too late.”

NSW Ambulances arrived shortly after. They pronounced the little boy died at the scene.

three-year-old dies in hot car in Sydney
Source: Twitter

Total numbness

Reflecting on the past year, Hasan admits that the grief and pain have been unimaginable.

“Nothing else in this world is harder than this,” Hasan told 9news.com.au. “It’s a total numbness. We can see and touch everything but can’t feel anything. It feels like living a parallel life – on one side we are with him and the other side we are moving on with worldly life.” 

three year old dies hot car death
Source: Facebook

$40 device could prevent hot car deaths

He’s hoping no parent will ever have to go through what he and his family have – and still are – going through, especially when there is a $40 device designed to ensure parents don’t forget their children in the car. Hasan discovered the device, available online, after the death of his son and is something every every parent should consider. There is also a $379 car seat detector option now available in Australia. 

The devices include a sensor that attaches to the seatbelt in a baby car seat. An alarm will sound from a key fob if the driver walks away from the car without unbuckling the seat. Like most parents, Hasan didn’t consider installing a child detection device until after the tragedy. 

“We should encourage local supermarkets and baby product stores to sell car child detection devices,” Hasan said. “Sometimes seeing the device on the shelves creates awareness itself. I am thinking, if they sell baby monitors why would they not sell hot car monitors?”

Hasan is also hoping that child detection technology be mandatory in every new car. At this stage, in Australia, it’s not a compulsory safety feature. In the USA, child detection technology will be mandatory in all new cars, but not until 2025.

Child detection sensors in all cars

Some new cars, particularly electric vehicles, sold in Australia now include various forms of child detection technology. There are two main types – children presence detection (CPD) which uses sensors to detect back-seat occupants and can send an alert to the driver’s smartphone app – and rear occupant alert (ROA) which reminds car owners to check the back seat with an alarm. 

A spokesperson for the Federal Transport Department said there was currently no international standard for child presence detection systems.

“However, the Australian government is currently leading work in the United Nations group responsible for developing vehicle standards to develop such a standard,” the spokesperson said.

Last year, Australia’s car safety rating body ANCAP (Australasia New Car Assessment Program) introduced new rules making child detection technology a requirement for cars to get the highest five-star safety rating.

Understanding forgotten baby syndrome

Accidentally leaving your child in a hot car is known as ‘forgotten baby syndrome’, which is more common than many think. Every year in Australia, over 5000 children are rescued after being left unattended in a car, according to Kidsafe Australia.

According to Dr David Diamond, an expert on forgotten baby syndrome, many cases occur when a conflict arises between a person’s “habit” and “prospective” memories.

“Prospective memory refers to the planning and execution of an action in the future, such as planning to take a child to daycare,” Diamond wrote for The Conversation. “Habit memory refers to tasks that involve repetitive actions that are performed automatically, as in routinely driving from one location to another, such as from home to work.”

These memory systems are located in different parts of the brain, and a person’s habit memory can sometimes override their prospective memory, making a driver act in autopilot mode, Diamond said.

Diamond explains that parents with forgotten baby syndrome have clear memories of dropping their child off at daycare.

“Having this ‘false memory’ caused them to be oblivious to the fact that their child had remained in the car all day,” Diamond wrote.

Hasan confirmed this is what happened to him on the day his son died.

“I am still trying to understand how my brain could completely alter with a memory from some other day perhaps,” he said.  “It doesn’t make sense.”

 
Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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