• Dave Erickson

Dad Forgets Kid in Car. Is It A Crime?

How a parent forgets a kid in a car, a hot car no less, I'll never understand. A pair of sunglasses? OK. A Starbucks venti iced white mocha with soy? Sure. A Nickelback CD? It happens. A baby?

Who. Does. That?

This week, the Collin County Sheriff's Office in Texas arrested a Dallas-area former schoolteacher named Michael Thedford. They charged him with manslaughter after his 6-month-old daughter died following one of the most insane lapses in parental judgment since Kevin was left to fight off Joe Pesci with a blow torch. This guy makes the Home Alone mom look like Dr. Benjamin Spock.

Thedford told deputies he forgot his 6-month-old daughter in his minivan, went inside the house and took a 4-hour nap. Then when he awoke realized the baby was in the van, in upper-90's heat, rushed to the van, grabbed the baby, rushed back into the house, and then called 911. Oops, check that, he rushed back into the house and PUT THE KID IN THE REFRIGERATOR.

Panicked, and likely operating on adrenaline, Thedford hoped to cool off his baby until paramedics could arrive. He left open the fridge door, called his wife, called 911, then attempted CPR.

By the accounts of neighbors and friends, Thedford is a good father. He and his wife have two other kids, 3 and 5, both of whom he'd left at daycare earlier in the day.

Should Thedford have been charged with manslaughter?

Manslaughter means Thedford would had to have been conscientiously aware of the risk and conscientiously disregarded the substantial and justifiable risk of the situation. He didn't. Dude fell asleep.

Sad and pathetic. Yes.

Criminal? No.

If stupidity were a crime then throw the book at any parent who leaves a kid in a hot car. In just Thedford's state of Texas alone, already this year, three children have died, with at least 106 since 1991. And that's just Texas.

And while Thedford did leave his baby in a hot car, don't confuse this situation with a legitimate degenerate parent like Justin Ross Harris, the Georgia man who goes on trial for murder in September.

This guy left his 2-year-old son in the back of a hot SUV for seven hours, and while the kid struggled to breath, reports say Dad was sexting on his phone.

Thedford ain't Harris.

The guy made a mistake. An absent-minded, hugely idiotic, galactically stupid mistake, for which he's paid a hefty price, He lost his baby.

Should he lose his freedom too?

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