Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Soccer Dad: Tragedy Strikes in Concord

The lead story in a lot of Bay Area papers today concerns the death of a 11-month old boy, left in a car while the father went to work.

The father, 46-year-old Danny Takemoto of Benicia, left home early Tuesday with his son strapped into a child seat, according to Concord police Lt. David Chilimidos.

The man did not stop at the child care center and went directly to his office at a medical equipment company at 4040 Nelson Ave., parking his car, a blue Honda sedan, in the lot near the office.

His wife phoned him at work shortly before 3:30 p.m. to ask why the child care facility had called her to report that her son was not there. In horror, Takemoto raced outside to the car and found the lifeless body of his son still strapped in the car seat, Chilimidos said.

It's heartbreaking to think of the scene that unrolled when he discovered his fatal error. Takemoto is being charged with suspicion of involuntary manslaughter. What do you think? Should the guy get punished?

UPDATE: The father won't be charged.



O.W. said...

Somehow, I imagine he's already so deep in a personal hell, the legal system could do little worse.

This story is terrible on every level imaginable.

la dra said...

As unbelievably tragic as this story is, there are still people who leave their kids in the car on purpose! Please be a nudge and tell everyone you know and even strangers that it is never safe to leave your kids in the car alone. Even with the car on and the AC going while you run into the store for a second. What if someone stole your car and babies? What if the kids shift the gear out of park?

Anonymous said...

wow...everything but that!

how horrible.

i'm so sorry

Soccer Dad said...

A few years ago, a colleague wrote a story about sad songs. Part of the story encouraged readers to send in their own mixtapes/CDs. One of the entrants came from Justin Paulsen. His 2-year-old son, Liam, perished after being locked in a car while the baby's mother passed out on Vicodin and alcohol inside the house. His older brother survived the ordeal.

Paulsen's grief is unimaginable, but in this letter to Probation, he recounts that day and subsequent emotional upheaveal. It is posted on the memorial site to Liam and is extremely difficult to read, but amazing to gauge the courage Justin summoned up.


Jade Park said...

This is really horrible--I hope that somehow the parents of this child find their way to peace.

As of this moment, the father has been released from jail and will not be charged:

MetroDad said...

This story (and Justin Paulson's letter) brings tears to my eyes. I can't even begin to fathom the level of grief for all parties involved. This is the most horrible story I've heard in a long time. Sadly, the fact that it happens as often as it does only serves to reaffirm the culpability of man.

I feel horrible for Danny Takemoto and his family. If I were in his shoes, I don't think I'd be able to live with myself. It might be the only possible occasion where I'd consider taking my own life.

Anonymous said...

At minimum, child endangerment charges should be brought against him. Sterilization, however, would also be an acceptable alternative.

SoulSnax said...

First of all, any couple that faces the death of a child, regardless of the circumstances, should seek marriage counseling. The death of a child can bring incredible strain on an otherwise healthy marriage.

Second, we should take this opportunity to learn from this story, and add another item to our pre- and post-flight checklist: from now on, I will make it a habit to check the back seat and cargo area before entering or leaving my car... You never know.

Now that I think of it... this story reminds me of something that happened in my family 25 years ago... One hot Saturday afternoon in July, my dad decided to take his car to the drive-through car wash. As the car entered the scary cavern, and monstrous brushes and sprays enveloped the car, my dad could hear a faint weeping. When he looked behind him, he was surprised to find my four year old brother cowering in the back seat. It's likely that he had been playing in the car when it was in the garage, and had probably fallen asleep by the time my dad got into the car. We look back on that story now, and chuckle at how cute it was.

But, what might have happened if my dad's first stop had been the sunny and hot parking lot of the hardware store, and not the big scary car wash? Frightening.

Mama Nabi said...

I never know what to think about these tragedies... for a while, it was happening too frequently around here to the point that many people were looking at them as "Copy cat crimes" and not "horrific and tragic accidents". One hand, people make mistakes, some more horrible, more unimaginably tragic, and I feel his own guilt is more painful than any prison sentence could be. On the other hand, I've never been so distracted that I'd forget that my child is in the car with me... so, although I can logically concede that this can very possibly be a complete accident, I do always wonder in the back of my mind... Horrible, I know. And I wasn't in his shoes that morning so I have no way of knowing... but, as la dra pointed out, we've had just too many of those kids left in the car death stories nationally (just last year, I think there were at least a dozen similar stories reported locally in Minnesota).

On a more compassionate note, my heart does go out to the family... I know if this happened to us, it would completely destroy our family... and also to the poor baby who suffered...

thisislarry said...

As a product designer, it seems this happens too often not to start blaming the whole idea of strapping your infant down in the back seat, especially at that age where they cant help you remember they're there. There's got to be a better way.

I just got back from a vacation in Hawaii, where a 43 year old rice daddy beginning a sabbatical from New Mexico drowned trying to save his son from the same. His son survived.

Too much tragedy in the last week.

honglien123 said...

I read that Danny Takemoto was working long hours and had a change in his routine. I'm satisfied that he won't be charged because from what I've read he seems to be truly distraught and any additional punishment will not bring Ian Takemoto back. This family already suffered the loss of one loved one, I don't know if they could bear to lose another one.

I can't imagine the pain the baby went through on what must have been a slow and agonizing death, however, I CAN imagine the life that Danny Takemoto was living. I've worked those long hours and it IS hard. You go on automatic a lot and forget things, including your children. Are my children the most important things in the world to me? Yes. That is a given. Are they SO important to me that I would sacrifice time with them and my own happiness to work in a position that brings in enough to be able to pay for their food, shelter, care, education, and enrichment activities? Yes. In order to succeed in that job however, I have to concentrate and work hard. Which also means, not thinking about my kids all the time.

I've been wondering if his bosses and co-workers have felt any guilt. In my department we are expected to be on-call 24/7 and often working long hours for weeks at a time. When I first heard of Danny Takemoto's hours, all I could think of was that this could so easily happen to one of our people and how guilty I would feel as a project manager that I'd forced an engineer to work extra hours for a project to be completed.

honglien123 said...

Here's a story also from SFGate, relating the statistics of these kinds of accidents. There has to be a better way to deal with these other than saying, "It can't happen to me."