Saddest Support Group: Parents Who Left Infants to Die in Hot Cars

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Kids and Cars sometimes sends care packages to parents whose children have died after being left in a hot car. They contain letters from parents who have suffered the same experience, legal information, statistics and phone numbers for support.

Balfour takes it a step further, sometimes visiting parents at court if they're facing a criminal trial. She urges those parents to get involved with Kids and Cars.

"You can heal better and feel like there is a sense of purpose in the loss of your child if you get involved and help educate other parents," Balfour said.

It's turned into a sort of support group, which is ideal when typical support groups for grieving parents won't work.

"How do you walk into one of those groups and say, I want you to feel sorry for me? My son didn't die in a car accident, he didn't die of cancer, he died because I accidentally left him in a car," Balfour said.

Since she started speaking up about Bryce's death, parents she barely knows have been open about revealing their secrets -- quick to share the time they accidentally drove away with their son in a carrier on the roof of their car, or the time a busy mom left her kid in the car while she was at work, but kept having a nagging suspicion that something was wrong.

They are secrets the parents hadn't told anyone before Balfour.

"Has anyone ever walked up to you and said, 'Oh my God, I just left my kid in the car for an hour and a half'? No! Because they think you're going to call child protective services. There's this fear," Balfour said.

More parents than most people realize have experienced the fear of leaving their children alone in a hot car, Balfour said. Instead of stigmatizing parents who have made a fatal mistake, the goal should be to educate other parents on how to keep their kids safe.

"The worst thing people can do is think it can't happen to them," Fennell said.

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