Chloe Fogarty. I don’t think I am ever going to forget this 7 month old baby girls name for as long as I live. You may have read that she died last Thursday afternoon in Co. Tipperary in the most tragic of circumstances. According to reports, her father had been due to drop her off to crèche on his way to work, got distracted by a phone call, proceed to go into work and forgot the baby was in the car. It wasn’t until lunchtime, several hours later when he came outside, that the horrifying realisation dawned on him. His cherished baby girl was still in the back of the car… on the hottest day of the year.
I just haven’t been able to get it out of my head. It is always an unspeakable tragedy when a child, especially a baby dies. But something about this incident just struck me as beyond heart-breaking. The way in which the baby girl died, the infinite horror of her father when he realised his mistake and the unending grief of the family. It’s the stuff nightmares are made of.
We happened to be travelling home from our first holiday the day after baby Chloe passed away. It was another hugely warm day and we had a five hour drive ahead of us. I sat in the back with the baby in his car seat, while my husband drove and the car was packed to the rafters with all his bits and pieces. I sat there, during the journey, looking at him asleep with the air con on and began to cry as I imagined the unimaginable. I thought about baby Chloe sitting alone in her car seat. Perhaps she’d been asleep when her father got out of the car. I wondered how long it took her to wake up as the car got hotter and hotter. I desperately wanted to image that she simply fell asleep with the rising heat and never woke up, but I feared that may not have been the case. The very thoughts of it go right to your core and assault you in the most primal of ways.
What also struck me was the deep cruelty and blame of a portion of the online comments on the incident. The truth was it was a grossly tragic mistake and not intentional.
Baby Chloe was a truly adored first child of a young, happy couple. She was just 7 months old and her parents were only starting to drop her to crèche. It was a completely new routine and any working parent knows how easy it can be to become incredibly stressed as you try to juggle your work commitments with childcare, through the exhausted fog new parenthood can bring. Throw in a lack of sleep and a new morning routine, and a simple distraction like a phone call, and all of us can see how auto-pilot quickly takes over.
The truth is, this could have been any of us, this could have been me.
‘How could he not remember his baby was in the back seat?’
‘I would have remembered.’
While I’ve never forgotten the baby was in the car, I’ve done a million and one similar, albeit far less serious things like this, when fatigue, stress and distraction all play a role. The man made an appalling mistake and he will never, ever be able to get over it. I cannot even fathom what he felt when he realised what had happened. The blood must have drained from his face, as sheer, sharp terrifying panic rose, as he desperately ran to the back seat of his car.
That day will haunt him forever.
He and his wife need infinite support, love and guidance in the coming days and weeks, not judgement and ire. Strangely, it’s been a huge wake up call for me personally. Every time I put my baby into the car, I’ll remember Chloe.
Rest in peace baby girl.