Egg Harbor Township police say an Atlantic City man left his 3-year-old child alone in a car for three hours while he was inside Chickie’s and Pete’s. When they arrived about 1:30 a.m. police say they found that bystanders had already rescued the boy from the hot car. The air temperature was 85 degrees but the interior of a car can grow exponentially hotter quickly.

Brandon Morgan has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child. It’s a serious charge, but is it serious enough considering 12 children have died in the U.S. since Memorial Day alone? An average of 38 every year. They call it vehicular heatstroke.

I call it vehicular homicide.

Honestly, unless there are extreme extenuating circumstances, we need to strengthen the laws on this. I say this should be treated like attempted murder and charged accordingly. How many people have gotten away with murder by claiming ignorance? Put aside for a moment the terrible act of abandoning your child in something that by nature is mobile and known to be stolen. That’s bad enough. But there can’t be person left who doesn’t know the consequences of leaving a child in a hot car for a prolonged period of time. Too often it’s treated lightly. I think we’re used to that. Perhaps so used to it that it’s giving some twisted people ideas.

In this particular case we have more questions than answers. Why the hell would you even have your 3-year-old son out until 1:30 in the morning to begin with? Why would you leave him in a car instead of bringing him inside the restaurant? Is this going to end up another “oh, I forgot he was in the car” defense? At what point does society start demanding some solid proof of that?

Thank God the boy was turned over to his mother instead of a morgue. The next one might not be so lucky.

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