A couple who struggled with fertility issues and endured six miscarriages before having a child are mourning the hot car death of their “miracle baby”.
Two-year-old Zariah Hasheme died after her babysitter, Tammie Brooks, forgot to drop her off at her nursery and went to work, New Mexico police say.
“I would not wish this pain and this hurt upon my worst enemy,” Zariah’s mother, Demi Petrowski, told KOB-TV.
Zariah was the 42nd US child to die of heat exhaustion in a hot car in 2019.
Ms Petrowski said the couple had given up on trying to conceive when they got the news she was pregnant.
“I remember praying every single day, non-stop,” she said.
The child was found dead on 17 September, when Ms Brooks, 41, forgot to drop off the child at her nursery in Hobbs, leaving Zariah in her car for over six hours, police say.
She only realised her error after returning to her car to run an errand, police added.
Ms Brooks was arrested and has been charged with abandonment or abuse of a child resulting in death.
Zariah’s father, Zachary Hasheme, recalled getting the call from his wife: “I hear Demi screaming on the other line saying that Zariah’s dead and I didn’t know what to do,” he told KOB-TV.
“I slammed on my brakes and pulled over.”
He added his daughter had recently “called me ‘Dada’ for the first time”.
An online fundraiser for the family has raised over $3,200 (£2,600) as of Monday.
The average number of child hot car deaths in the US each year is 38, according to safety group Kidsandcars.org.
Tips on keeping children safe in cars
- Keep a teddy bear in the car seat when it’s empty, then when you put your child in the seat, move the toy to the front seat
- Put a shoe or mobile phone in the seat with your child
- Put the car seat on the passenger side of the back seat
- Look in the front and back seats when you lock the car
- Ask your partner to call to check you dropped your child off at nursery
Source: Kids Safe Worldwide
US car manufacturers have agreed to add rear seat sensors in order to deter vehicle deaths.
Ms Petrowski appealed for people to “always look at the backseat of the car, and if there is a child in there or you hear a child screaming, please just – you know, help.
“As for daycare centers, if you know a child is not there at their appointed time, please contact the parents or someone on the emergency list right away.”