With kids’ safety, always err on side of caution

Most of us can remember a time or two in our younger days when our parents left us in parked cars while they ran into a store or gas station for a minute or two and then returned. It seemed harmless enough. But an Ohio woman learned in the most horrific fashion that there can indeed be harm, particularly if the adult leaves keys in the vehicle and / or leaves it unlocked.

Smartphone users all over Ohio heard a startling alarm Thursday evening, when an Amber Alert went out asking people to watch for a missing 2008 Chevrolet Suburban and a missing 3-year-old and 1-year-old. Annoying as some may have found the intrusion, it worked. Zanesville police reported someone identified the vehicle in Washington, Pa., only a short time later. Pennsylvania State Police found and stopped it, and the missing children were recovered.

Thomas Pritchard of Zanesville has been charged with kidnapping, grand theft auto, driving under the influence of alcohol, endangering children, reckless endangerment and receiving stolen property. He may incur federal charges for crossing state lines.

Those children are back with their family now, but imagine what might have happened had the Amber Alert not gone out so quickly. Who knows how far Pritchard might have gotten, or what he might have done with those kids?

As the story appears to have ended relatively happily, it is a good reminder that, while it may cause everyone in a grocery line to jump when the alarm blares from five purses and pockets, a momentary fright is small price to pay for making it more likely missing people will be safely found.

And, it is a reminder not to leave children — especially very young children — unattended in unlocked vehicles; and never leave the keys in a vehicle. The woman in this particular story says she was inside for less than ten minutes. It only takes a few seconds for someone to spot what has happened and take advantage of the lapse.

When children are involved, always err on the side of caution.



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