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Death Of Ridgefield Toddler Leads Mother To Repeat Call For Safety

Ridgefield resident of 12 years, Barbara Baughman remembers how her family left their youngest daughter in the car as they moved into their home in town. Photo Credit: Alissa Smith
This window decal was thought up by Ridgefield resident Barbara Baughman and her children after the youngest was left in the car for just under an hour with a wide open window. Photo Credit: Alissa Smith
Media from all over the region gathers in Ridgefield to learn more about the death of a 15-month-old boy in a hot car. Photo Credit: Alissa Smith
Ridgefield Police Capt. Jeff Kreitz speaks to the gathered media about the toddler's death but did not take any questions. Photo Credit: Alissa Smith

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. – For longtime Ridgefield resident Barbara Baughman, the tragic death of a 15-month-old boy in a hot car in town was a stark reminder of how she almost lost her youngest daughter.

It happened back when her family was just moving to Ridgefield about a dozen years ago, she said. Her five older children had been taking then-1-year-old Emma out of the car for two weeks. But one 70-degree day in May, they were distracted by friends and no one realized the baby had been left in the car for 45 minutes, she said.

“The window was wide open,” Baughman said. But running out to the car that day is still one of the scariest moments she said she has ever had.

Over the next several years, she and her family came up with Emma’s Inspirations , or little rhymes on a car window decal to remind parents to double check their cars. “It’s a simple solution but it’s a rhyme you remember,” she said.

The decal says, "Closed cars don't breathe, check your seats before you leave," with stick figures of two kids, a dog and a cat.

Baughman said she found out about the Monday evening death in Ridgefield when her older children began to post news stories on her Facebook page.

“It doesn’t have to be very hot out to suffocate a child,” Baughman said.

According to Ridgefield Fire Chief Kevin Tappe, the human body prefers a very narrow temperature range. When a a body gets too hot, hyperthermia sets in.

“When the body goes temperature out of that range, at a certain temperature the body stops perspiring,” Tappe said. Perspiring is the body’s natural air conditioning, he said.

The Ridgefield police issued a short statement about the death Monday of a 15-month-old boy. They did not take any questions at a press conference Tuesday afternoon, stating that the infant had been left “unattended for an extended period of time” in a parked car at an undisclosed location in town.

Police Capt. Jeff Kreitz, said the investigation is ongoing and the cause of death has yet to be determined.

“Nobody knows exactly what happened,” Baughman said. “They all said that the information hasn’t been given yet. Everyone is just saying what a terrible tragedy. Nobody knows the specifics.”

When asked whether charges should be lodged against the family or caretaker of the child, Baughman said, “I think this is enough.”

Read more about the incident here on the Daily Voice. The state police offer tips on heat-related safety here on the Daily Voice.

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