Trigger warning: This story may be distressing.
A little boy and his dad have both lost their lives in two separate, but intertwined incidents. 18-month-old Anderson has allegedly died after accidentally being left strapped in a car for three hours during a heatwave. His father, Aaron Beck, allegedly died of suicide after discovering his son in the car.
This is an absolutely heartbreaking situation which we share as a stark reminder of just how important it is to triple-check the back of your car every single time you have your child with you. Hot car tragedies like this happen more often than you may think.
On June 28 2022, Aaron went to work. He was meant to drop his son off at daycare first but he didn’t. Later that day, both Aaron and Anderson were found dead at Aaron’s property.
The specifics of what exactly happened are not known. However, officers speculate that Aaron went to work in the morning for three hours and forgot to drop his son off at daycare during an ongoing heatwave. Temperatures in the area reached a high of 80F (26 degrees C) on the day they died.
When the boy didn’t arrive at daycare, the father apparently realised the toddler was in his car, Chesterfield Police Lt. Col. Christopher Hensley said.
Police were alerted that something had happened and that Aaron had made suicidal claims to family members. When the police arrived at Aaron’s residence, they found the family members in the driveway.
Aaron’s car was there, with an open door and an empty child seat in the vehicle.
As they made entry into the residence, they found a deceased 18-month-old. They later found Aaron’s body in the woods. We won’t disclose the details of his death.
A coroner confirmed that Aaron died of suicide. The child’s cause of death is yet to be determined.
‘The brightest light’
Since the hot car tragedy, tributes have poured in. Aaron is described as a father whose “most devoted focus was his son, Anderson, to whom he gave enormous and endless love. He was generous, kind, caring and soft with his son.”
Anderson is remembered as being the “brightest light that brought his family together. He was a beautiful, outgoing and intelligent little boy that lived in a family that was full of love and promise.”
Anderson’s mum and Aaron’s wife, Laura, is now left to pick up the pieces after losing her husband and son.
“She is completely shattered and has a long tough road ahead of her,” Aaron’s step sister, Lauren, shared on Facebook. A GoFundMe has been organised by the family to help with funeral and ongoing costs.
5000 children a year
Losing a child is by far the worst thing that can happen to a parent. Sadly, it happens and hot car deaths are on the rise.
Since the hot car tragedy, Every year in Australia, over 5000 children are rescued after being left unattended in a car, according to Kidsafe Australia. Over the past five years, 10 children are reported to have died after being left in hot cars in Australia, with half of the deaths taking place in Queensland, Kidsafe Australia says.
It’s so easy to ask “How does this even happen.” But it does. No one should judge why or how. Instead, we should be looking at ways to prevent this from happening.
Often it only takes one moment of absentmindedness to forget.
Here are some ways to keep your children safe in cars.
Look into a Backseat Reminder
It uses the car’s existing door sensors to trigger a reminder that someone or something needs to be removed from the back seat. Car companies are looking into making rear-seat reminders a standard in all makes and models but we’re not quite there yet. In America, it’s projected that most new cars will have this feature by 2025 though.
Get in the habit of putting your purse or something valuable in the backseat
This can ensure you always do a double-take when getting out of the hot car.
Check the backseat reminder stickers
In America, there are several check the backseat apps but I couldn’t find a single one on Apple! Do Better Apple.
So, until we get an app, we can make a visual reminder to check the back seat. Make up your own stickers to place on the dashboard, perhaps on the front door or anywhere else you think you would see it. You can make them yourself or buy a set through Amazon.
Never let your child play with your keys
This ensures they don’t accidentally lock themselves in the car.
Always keep the car locked if you’re not using it
Kids are curious creatures and a car could prove to be the perfect hiding spot. We’ve shared a story in the past of a little boy who hid in the back seat of his mum’s car. He was found unconscious six hours later.
Finally, aim to be on time (or early even)
This reduces the panic that sets in when you arrive at your destination and are attempting to get out of the car at record pace, absentmindedly forgetting to check the precious cargo in the back. Again, you may think it will never happen to you but when the business of life gets to you or you’re sleep-deprived or your mind is elsewhere, it can. It does.
What to read next
- Child Dies in Hot Car Sparking Renewed Warning for Parents to be Vigilant
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- 4-Year-Old Saves Himself and Six Others After Being Left inside a Hot Car