One Mississippi mother has been charged with second-degree murder after leaving her 10-month-old son in a car parked right outside of her house for an “an unknown length of time.” On the day that Elizabeth Barhonovich, 28, left her son Kash in the car, temperatures climbed to as high as 90 degrees and after an autopsy, it was confirmed that Kash died because his body overheated.
After being arrested, Barhonovich was initially held without bond but has since had her bail set at $50,000. Though Barhonovich hasn’t confirmed why she left her baby in the car alone, this is one of 18 cases of a child overheating and dying in a car this year according to No Heat No Stroke, an organization that compiles data on “pediatric vehicular heatstroke.” There is a really good chance that Barhonovich simply forgot that Kash was in the car. Though that sounds implausible, 54 percent of incidents like this occur for this reason exactly.
Since 1998, 760 children have died due to being locked in hot vehicles. While to an adult, the idea of being locked in a hot car may sound truly miserable, but not necessarily life-threatening, it can take as little as 10 minutes for a child or baby’s body to overheat. Beyond the 54 percent of children that are simply forgotten in cars, a little over 25 percent of them got into the car alone and were locked in accidentally, and tragically 18 percent were locked in there intentionally by adults who didn’t seem to think worse of what they were doing.
The bottom line is that it’s crucial to never leave a child unattended in a car and the idea that simply cracking the window will be enough is also false. and dangerous. Luckily, there are some very practical ways to make sure that you never forget your child in a car. For example, while the law doesn’t require parents to use these kinds of tools, there are a bevy of car seats and alarms that will alert parents when their child has been left alone in a hot vehicle. Many also recommend that parents leave something crucial like a shoe or cellphone in the backseat next to the child, as to diminish the chance that they won’t check for the kid in the back seat.