JAMIE Dill, 44, is a homemaker living in Indiana, USA with her husband Andrew, 46, a university professor, and their son Owen, nine.
Today, Jamie recounts the tragic incident that rocked her world, involving her husband and three-year-old son, Ollie.
“As I sat next to my son’s body at the funeral home, I cried. In his favorite turtle pajamas, he looked like he was asleep, but I knew my mischievous, kind-hearted boy would never wake up.
Just a few days earlier, I had kissed three-year-old Ollie goodbye before my husband Andrew strapped him into his car seat.
“Bye, bye Mom,” he said, waving. It was the last time I saw him alive.
The morning of July 9, 2019 was a typical morning. I’d taken Ollie and his then five-year-old brother, Owen, to breakfast and overheard them discussing our plans to go to the cinema that afternoon toy story 4.
I usually drove Ollie to daycare, but that day we agreed that Andrew would pick him up on the way to work while I stayed home with Owen as he was on school vacation.
At lunchtime, I checked the Kindergarten app to see what Ollie had eaten and was amazed to find that he hadn’t signed in that morning.
I called Andrew who said he must have forgotten when he dropped Ollie off.
When they didn’t come home that afternoon, I called Andrew several times. No Answer.
A feeling of fear came over me. I called the kindergarten and was put on hold. I hung up, put Owen in the car and drove straight there.
The scene in the day care center parking lot made me sick. I saw an ambulance, police cars, and Andrew’s car with the back door open. I got out of the car shaking, but a police officer stopped me and said that Ollie had died.
Andrew had forgotten to drop Ollie off at daycare, drove to work, parked, and walked inside. We’ll never know why Ollie didn’t say anything or if he fell asleep.
He died of hyperthermia after spending around four hours in the car in temperatures of up to 48°C.
It was only after Andrew drove back to the kindergarten that he discovered Ollie’s body in the back seat.
While Owen was being taken to the nursery by the staff, I was shown to a room by the police and Andrew was taken to the station for questioning.
I was allowed to see him that night before he was taken to a psychiatric ward for threatening to harm himself. My feelings were all-encompassing – compassion, pain, love.
I knew he would never have intentionally harmed Ollie. He was releasedTag and we were told he would not be charged – police accepted it was a tragic accident.
Planning the funeral was difficult, but family and friends supported us and we also started therapy. We told Owen that Ollie had been in a car accident as we thought he could only understand.
He kept asking when his brother was coming home, which was heartbreaking.
Four years later, Andrew and I are still married, despite comments from strangers online that I’m an idiot for staying.
It wasn’t easy and he carries a lot of guilt, but we’ve learned how and when to give each other space.
We never planned for Owen to be an only child, but I was spayed after Ollie was born so we can’t have another child. Owen is the light of my life and I’m very protective.
He’s in therapy and we’ve slowly unearthed what really happened. However, his love for his father never waned.
We talk a lot about Ollie. Milestones like Christmas are tough, but so are small moments, like seeing your friends ride bikes for the first time.
Along with other families who have lost children this way, I am supporting a law that would require cars to be equipped with an alarm system to warn the driver if a person or animal is left in the back seat .
We also run a non-profit foundation, Be Kind For Ollie, which raises awareness about hot car safety.
I miss Ollie every day but his greatest legacy is that we didn’t let what happened destroy us. We live life in love, in memory of him.”
By the way
Last year there were 33 hot car deaths in the US.*
documentary Deadly Distraction It is about Justin Ross Harris, who was convicted of murder in 2014 after leaving his son in a car. The verdict was later overturned.