Published at 8:35 AM EDT on May 9, 2018
It’s a story that plays out too often here in South Florida – a child forgotten inside a hot car.
Luckily for one family, it was not too late and now they are sharing their painful lesson and how they hope it will help save the lives of other children as the scorching summer months near.
Last June, the Safille family went to visit grandparents in Naples, making a stop after grandma’s house to the neighborhood pool.
Six month old Koa was asleep in his car seat when they got there, while big brother Peyton was wide awake. Mom and dad, Amanda and Nick Safille pulled out the double stroller and the pool toys – while each thought the other took their baby out of the car.
“We closed the door because we thought he was there,” Amanda said. “We really thought he was with us because the canopies were down.”
The canopies shading the stroller blocked Amanda and Nick’s view as they headed for the pool.
They didn’t realize their infant son was missing until some eight minutes later when their three year-old riding in the front of the stroller piped up with a question about his baby brother.
“He goes ‘where’s Koa’. I was just really confused,” Amanda said. “I pull the canopy…and I just start freaking out. I look at him (Nick) and I’m like ‘where’s Koa?’ He was like ‘I thought you had him’ and…I thought is he in the car?”
The Safilles ran back to their SUV.
“I will never ever be able to get the visual out of my head of thinking that he was going to be dead when we opened the door because it was so hot,” Amanda said. “We opened the car and he was crying hysterically and he was sweating.”
According to the safety group kidsandcars.org, hot car deaths claimed the lives of 43 children in the United States last year.
Now the Safilles have changed their car routine, and hope other families will do the same.
“What we did, we took the stuff out first, also the doors were open like you don’t even think about it,” the mother of two said. “It’s really important that you focus on your children at all times, don’t let any other thing distract you.”
“We live in an age of cell phones, so many distractions, you get lost in your head and you’re not in the moment,” added Nick.
As terrifying as their experience was, the Safille family is hoping it will serve as a lesson to other parents and they’ve created this Facebook page as a resource for safety information.