COPY-Baby Dies After Sitter Leaves Infant Alone in Car

Published: Dec. 15, 2007 at 12:02 AM HST
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By Mari-Ela David

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- A former Hawaii couple wants to make it illegal for people to leave kids in a car unattended.

That's what a babysitter did to their daughter. Their baby ended up dying. On Wednesday, an Oahu Circuit Court judge awarded the couple $2 million, but it's money they'll probably never see.

The babysitter moved to Wyoming and she never faced criminal charges. She and the baby's parents used to live at Hickam Air Force Base. Investigators think the sitter was running errands at the base when she left the baby in a car unattended.

It happened in February of 2004. Aslyn Ryan was only a year old when she died of a heat stroke.

Her babysitter, Shawna Akin, left the infant in a hot car, unattended, for 50 minutes.

"I have this headstone now because of her actions," said Aslyn's mom, Deona Ryan.

Aslyn's parents are now using their baby girl's death to protect other children.

"It makes the pain more bearable knowing that we're doing this for her," said Deona.

The Ryan's have created a non-profit organization called Hot Spot, which is based in Tucson, Arizona where the couple now lives. It's a campaign to educate people about the dangers of leaving a child in car.

They say on an 89 degree day, the inside of a car can heat up 108 degrees in just 20 minutes.

"If we saved one child's life I guess we could find a measure of comfort in that," said Timothy Ryan, Aslyn's dad.

Timothy and Deona hope to convince lawmakers to make it illegal in Hawaii to leave kids unattended in a car, so that people like Aslyn's babysitter, don't go unpunished.

"She's out walking around and maybe watching somebody else's child," said Timothy.

"We searched to find meaning for what happened and there's really none. I mean, this is a completely preventable injury," said Deona.

The Ryan's plan to meet with Governor Linda Lingle on Friday to talk about their campaign.

Their lawyer says 12 states already have laws in place that make it a crime to leave a child alone in a car.