A negligent young mother’s actions costed the life of a little boy, who was left alone in a car for hours and was only retrieved the next day afternoon.
The mother, Ashley Howard, was 19 years old when she carelessly left her two-year-old son, Caleb in the car for more than 14 hours. While she spent the night partying with her friends, Caleb, spent the entire night alone inside the locked vehicle. He was in there for several hours well into the next day, trapped inside the car under the hot afternoon sun.
After partying, Ashley decided to sleep off her hangover without checking up on her son. Her boyfriend at the time had reportedly asked if he could arrange a ride for her so that she and her son would be taken home safely. But she declined and ended up sleeping at her friend’s house, according to Billings Gazette.
It was only the next day in the afternoon at around 1 pm when Ashley returned to check on her toddler. The boy, had spent a total of 14 hours in the car by that time, and for around 8 of those hours, the sun was out, causing Caleb’s body temperature to rise due to the scorching heat.
By the time Ashley got Caleb to the hospital, the damage had already been done. His temperate was found to be a shocking 107 degrees, and the boy had to be airlifted to a hospital in Billings. A couple of days after Caleb was found by Ashley in his overheated state, the boy was put on life support during his final hours before passing away from hyperthermia caused by overheating.
Caleb’s father, John Howard, had revealed to police officers that this was not the first time Ashley had been a negligent mother. She had left their son in the car without any supervision on multiple previous occasions. In court, John’s mother, Marsha Hopkins, revealed the immense grief of losing her grandson and said, “I don’t think we will ever have closure.”
ent took place.
But the prosecutor, Dawson County Attorney Brett Irigoin said it was “insulting” to blame Ashley’s age for the death of the innocent toddler. “She left him in that vehicle for 14 hours. Eight of those hours the sun was up,” Irigoin said.
When it was Ashley’s turn to speak in court, she said, “…I agree, my decisions were selfish.”
The mother said, “I struggle with saying that I killed my son because nobody wants to be the reason their son is no longer here,” as quoted by KULR8.
In the statement given by Caleb’s grandmother during the hearing, Marsha said, “You will have to live with the fact that you alone killed Caleb. Do I think that you meant to? No. Do I think that you could have prevented it, absolutely. You knew what could have happened if you left him in the car, and you made that choice.”
It has been two years since Caleb’s death took place in 2018, and the now 21-year-old mother has been convicted of negligent homicide. People reported that she was given a sentence of 20 years in the Montana State Women’s Prison in Billings.
While the Cascade County District Court Judge Elizabeth Best gave Ashley her sentence, she mentioned that there were signs of irresponsibility and narcissism still seen in Ashley’s behavior. The judge added that Ashley needed some “serious and sustained treatment.”
Like Caleb, a number of other children die from heatstroke after being left alone in cars. In 2020 so far, 24 children have lost their lives to such negligence, according to NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). In the year of 2019, the number of such deaths was 52. Follow this link to know how such deaths can be prevented: https://www.nhtsa.gov/child-safety/help-prevent-hot-car-deaths