September 3, 2019 was the day our whole world came crashing down. It was the day we lost our baby girl and Heaven gained an angel. Charlotte “Charly” Josephine Jones wasn’t really a baby as she was a couple months shy of turning four, but she was our baby. It was a Tuesday, the day after Labor Day. Normally Charly would be dropped off at preschool, but instead we had decided to keep her home that day since she was only going to go that one day, as we were leaving on a family beach vacation the next day. My husband works from home and we agreed she would stay home with him and I would go to work. I debated calling out from work that day so I could get last minute things ready for our trip, but I had a lot to do at work before vacation so I decided to go. My husband was usually the one to take the kids to school as he worked from home. He packed the girls up in our truck and dropped the older two off at their elementary school. Then normally he would drive Charly just down the road to her preschool, but that day he didn’t because she was staying home with him. He drove home as he routinely would and got out of the truck, not realizing our daughter was still in the back seat behind him. He went inside and began working.
In his mind he thought all the girls were at school and that he had dropped Charly off at preschool. It wasn’t until I called him on my lunch break and asked him what Charly was doing. I heard the panic in his voice and he said, “Oh my god, where’s Charly?” I knew right away that something was terribly wrong. It was that moment he remembered she was supposed to be home with him and he said “Oh my god I think she is still in the truck. God please don’t be in the truck.” He ran out to the truck and he found our precious girl still strapped into the car seat unresponsive. We had lost connection in the process of him running outside and I immediately called 911 from my office phone. They told me they had my husband on the other line and they were responding to our house. It was an hour long drive to the hospital and it was agonizing. It was the longest ride of my life. When I arrived at the hospital my husband was there in a small room waiting for me. I can remember the look in his eyes and it was something I had never seen in the 20 years of being together. It was complete devastation and emptiness. We held each other because we didn’t have the strength to stand. The doctor then came in and told us the news that our baby girl was gone. I cannot even put into words what that felt like. It was indescribable, like I was living in a nightmare. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I just couldn’t believe it. How was our baby girl gone? We had to leave that hospital without her and it was excruciating. Then we had to go tell our other two daughters that their little sister was in an accident and wasn’t coming home and she was now an angel in Heaven. I will never forget the sounds of their cries as they listened to what I was saying. It was soul crushing.
It has been 314 days since we have heard Charly’s voice and kissed her face. Charly was so incredibly special. She was our little ray of sunshine, who brought so much laughter and joy into our lives. She was always smiling, giggling, and having fun playing with her older sisters. She loved making funny faces for pictures, which would make us all laugh. She was such a character and had so much sass. Charly was our little dare devil and had no fear. She would be the first to jump off the waterfall into the pool with the biggest smile on her face. Charly loved gymnastics, swimming, taking baths, and eating popsicles for every meal. She adored her sisters and they did everything together. They were inseparable. Her oldest sister Paisley, was five years older than her and had just turned nine. Charly looked up to her and Paisley was the best big sister, always so sweet and caring towards her. Her other sister Ivy was only 14 months older than her. They were so close and did everything together. My heart aches for Paisley and Ivy and the loss of their little sister. Their bond was really special. We cherish all the wonderful memories of the three of them together.
It breaks our hearts to know that there is affordable, available technology out there that could have detected our baby in Scott’s vehicle and saved her life by sounding an alarm. My husband was only 20 feet away from her the entire time she was trapped inside his vehicle. Had he known, he would have done literally anything to protect her. The Hot Cars Act should be passed immediately so that all vehicles come with this life-saving technology.
We hope that our story will resonate with other families and that maybe it will help prevent another family from experiencing this unthinkable heartbreak. It has become my mission to spread awareness of how this kind of tragedy can be avoided. I never thought that this could happen to us. We were living this amazing life and had just moved into our dream home 5 months prior. We were about to leave on a family beach vacation when it all came crumbling down. With the love and support of our family, friends, church, community, and even total strangers we have been able to stay strong these last ten months. We hope and pray we can keep Charly’s memory alive by telling her story and share how special she was. I know she made a huge impact on so many people in her short 3 years and 10 months on this earth. Now she is our angel watching over us from above.