HALEIWA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu police have opened a child welfare endangerment investigation after an infant was found unconscious in a car in Haleiwa Monday.
Investigators say the five-month-old girl was left unattended for "several hours" in an enclosed, locked vehicle in the parking lot of Haleiwa Joe's Restaurant. She was taken to a hospital and was last reported to be in critical condition.
"Our first reaction often times is one of blame," Cora Speck, injury prevention coordinator at The Queen's Medical Center, said. "We look at the parents and we say how could they do such a thing, how could they be so stupid or uncaring."
But Speck says this type of incident happens more often than you'd think.
The baby's 41-year-old father reportedly told investigators that he went to work at Haleiwa Joe's and forgot that she was in the car.
A similar case was reported in Kailua in 2003. Police say a woman went to work at the Windward YMCA, forgetting that her 10-month-old daughter was in the back seat. That child died.
Speck says a baby left in a hot car can begin suffering serious injuries within minutes.
"A lot of that is irreversible," she said.
Speck says about 50 such cases are reported in the US each year.
"Parents get so busy," Speck said. "Here we are as parents in Hawaii, often times we work one or two jobs. We're sleep deprived because we have young infants at home. All it takes is one bit of distraction."
Police did not make any arrests in the Haleiwa case.
"I'm a parent and I've thought about this," Speck said. "If something like that happened to me, I would want to be on suicide watch because it's just so traumatic."