This “forgetting” may seem insane.
And yet every year parents abandon their young children, leaving them to suffer for several hours in a car.
Last case to date, Monday in Saint-Nazaire (Loire-Atlantique).
At around 8:30 a.m., a hospital carer failed to drop off his 14-month-old son and went straight to his post.
It was the baby's mother who, in the evening, worried about his fate when she learned of his absence from the crèche.
Too late, the baby had died after several hours alone in the vehicle.
Why is it fatal?
Like a tin can in direct sunlight, a car can turn into a real oven in minutes.
Even with a simple temperature of 20 ° C outside, the thermometer can climb to 50 ° C in 10 minutes in the passenger compartment and up to 80 ° C in one hour, notes the site specializing in the automobile L' Argus.
Inside, the child, especially if he is less than 2 years old, struggles to regulate his body temperature, becomes dehydrated, finds himself in hyperthermia and may even suffer from sunstroke.
How can you forget your child?
The phenomenon is poorly documented.
But in an article published in 2014, the American neuroscientist David Diamond explains that it is a failure of the subconscious.
Clearly, the brain caught up in its routine forgets to manage the present moment.
“Our hypothesis is that the parent forgets to stop at the crèche because dropping the child off is not part of their routine or that they are not the parent in charge of this task usually”, writes the teacher of the University of Florida.
Stress, lack of sleep can lead to this phenomenon.
"A stressed person is able to get to work efficiently, concentrating on an event," explains the professor.
But stress causes the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, the two parts of the brain in charge of decision-making and multitasking, to become tangled and "interfere with memorizing new information and awareness of existence of the child.
How many times a year?
The phenomenon occurs particularly in summer but there are no official figures in France.
However, according to researchers from the University of San Jose, quoted by ABC in 2016, 677 children have succumbed to this phenomenon since 1998 in the United States.
354 of them were one year old or younger.
According to another study, Canadian this time, approximately 37 children die of hyperthermia in a car each year in the United States.
The majority of cases (55%) are “forgotten” by the parent, 13% of them are left intentionally in vehicles and 28% when the child gets into an unlocked car alone.
The causes of the remaining 4% are unknown.
In June 2007, a father in his thirties had to take his 19-month-old daughter to a crèche near Béziers (Hérault).
But the man forgot it in the back seat of his car parked in the parking lot of an industrial area when the outside temperature was 27°C.
At the end of the afternoon, the little girl's mother did not find her at the crèche and called her companion.
It's too late, the little girl is dead.
The 30-year-old will be given a two-year suspended prison sentence for manslaughter.
An "excessive" sentence had been estimated by his lawyer at the time.
“It was necessary to mark the gravity that there was in the loss of this human life, even if I am fully aware that the father is the first to suffer”, had argued the deputy prosecutor.
"He behaved in the eyes of the law of manifest negligence and recklessness," he continued.
What matters to us is not to stigmatize or overwhelm this man, simply to stigmatize the fault that has been committed”.
For her part, the mother of the little one had supported her companion: “To condemn him to prison (firm) would have been useless.
We are sentenced to life imprisonment.