Hot car death raises legal questions

It's happened 36 times in the S.S. this year alone -- a child dies after a parent or guardian forgets them in a hot car.

NEW ORLEANS -- It's happened 36 times in the S.S. this year alone -- a child dies after a parent or guardian forgets them in a hot car.

The deadly mistake doesn't always result in parents facing charges, so why now? Sheng Li is currently charged with negligent homicide after leaving his 11-month-old daughter Claire Li in a car for hours on Thursday. 

Eyewitness News Legal Analyst Pauline Hardin broke that down for us.

"What criminal negligence means is that you understood there are risks associated with your conduct and those risks were something that could result in the death of someone," Hardin said.

The same day Li left his daughter in the car, another parent, this time on the north shore, left her child in the car while it was running. The car was stolen with the child inside.

While the child was returned safely, So far, that mother has yet to be charged.

"In that particular situation the child did not die, she had the AC running. It was certainty a foolish thing to do, but that would not rise to the level of anything more than perhaps cruelty to a juvenile or child endangerment something along those lines," Hardin said.

Like any criminal case, the discretion of prosecutors can determine if a suspect will be charged.  Paulette Carter with the Children's Bureau of New Orleans says it all comes down to being self aware.

"Pay attention. If there's a change in your routine, be alert and give yourself a mental reminder," Carter said.

If you don't trust yourself to remember, there are apps that can do that for you. You can set the Waze App to send you a notification once you get to your destination, reminding you to check the backseat. You could also leave your purse, shoe or phone in the backseat next to your child to remind you that way.

Parents never think they could leave a child in the car, but these tragic accidents continue.

"We hear these stories every summer. So it does happen," Carter said.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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