A three year old toddler from Faleasiu has died after being left inside a family vehicle for hours.
Acting Police Commissioner Auapaau Logoitino Filipo told Samoa Global News the tragic incident happened on Tuesday 19 October 2021.
He said the little girl had gone shopping with her grandmother and one other family member who was driving the family car. They then returned to their home at Faleasiu, but the toddler had fallen asleep in the car.
“She was left inside the car outside their home. When they got home, our preliminary findings are, she was sleeping when they arrived home, and that’s when she was forgotten inside the car,” said Auapaau.
The Acting Commissioner said the information received, is that the little girl’s grandmother had completely forgetton about her granddaughter being inside the car.
“E foliga mai ua matua’i galo nimo lava iā te ia lana tama”.
“We are still investigating however, it is believed that the little girl was left in the vehicle for at least four hours,” he said.
“By the time they went back to look for her, the child was discovered dead.”
Acting Commissioner Auapaau said investigations continue, and no one had yet been charged in relation to the toddler’s death.
“This is a tragic incident,” said Auapaau. “We urge parents to please take care of our children, and know where they are at all times”.
Forgotten Baby Syndrome
Forgotten Baby Syndrome (FBS) is a term most parents have hopefully never heard. It refers to accidentally leaving a baby or young child in a locked car, often with tragic results.
FBS is in constant growth with significant repercussions for the parent, the family and society.
Professor David Diamond, of the University of South Florida has spent over 15 years studying cases involving Forgotten Baby Syndrome to see if there was a consistent pattern that could help researchers understand why it happened.
He said Forgotten Baby Syndrome was “extremely rare”, with 39 children dying around the world each year as a result of the phenomenon, however there were also many un-reported cases of the syndrome occurring, where parents have quickly realised, and their child is brought to safety.
“We have many near misses where kids have been forgotten in cars, but parents quickly remember, and children did not die.”
The researcher says, in his opinion, it was difficult to prosecute parents who had suffered from Forgotten Baby Syndrome.
“There is absolutely no evidence of malice, there is no evidence these parents wanted to cause any harm to these children and nothing will be gained from society to put these people in prison,” the researcher states.