A small central Ontario town is rallying around the family of a young child who died after he was mistakenly left in a hot car, the mayor said Monday.
Bancroft, Ont., Mayor Paul Jenkins said 23-month-old Everett Smith died Thursday after he was found in the parking lot of North Hastings High School, where his mother is a teacher.
Jenkins said the mother intended to drop off her child at daycare in the morning but accidentally left him in the car, where he was found later that day.
“She obviously thought she had done that and the child was accidentally left in the car for the day,” said Jenkins, a longtime friend of the family.
“It’s such an unfathomable situation. It’s going to be a long road to recovery (for the family), there’s no question.”
Jenkins said a small memorial had been arranged outside the high school. He called on the community to continue to support the parents, who also have a five-year-old son.
“They were an excellent family and devoted to their kids … life centered around the kids,” Jenkins said.
Ontario Provincial Police said officers were called around 3:45 p.m. Thursday to a parking lot in the area of the school, where police found a 23-month-old child with no vital signs.
“The staff over there sort of jumped into action, so I’m sure it’s very traumatic for them as well,” Jenkins said of the response from other teachers at the high school. “They’re all reeling and in shock.”
Police said the child was transported to hospital by ambulance and pronounced dead shortly after.
A 2019 study found six children died unattended in hot cars between 2013 and 2018 in Canada. The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Toronto and the Hospital for Sick Children, said it was the first to document those deaths in the country.
In the U.S., an average of 37 children die each year due to being left in a hot car, the study noted. A little over half of those cases are due to a caregiver unintentionally leaving a child behind because of stress, fatigue, or routine changes.
“Experts believe that under the right circumstances, forgetting an infant or child in the back seat could happen to anyone,” the study said.
“It’s important to be aware of potential pitfalls and set strategies and habits in place as reminders that can help prevent attention shifts and lapses in memory.”