Mother charged in baby’s death

The woman who allegedly forgot to drop her nine-month old baby at the sitter's and left him in the car in the JAG School parking lot all day March 30 was charged with second-degree murder and felony child neglect today in Charlottesville Albemarle Juvenile and Domestic Relation Court.

According to a source close to the investigation, Greene County resident Raelyn Balfour, 35, arrived at her job at the Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School around 8:30am last Friday, and didn't realize she'd forgotten to take baby Bryce Balfour to the sitter until she retrieved a message from the sitter at 4pm.

The state medical examiner says the infant died from hyperthermia and ruled the death accidental. Even on a mild spring day such as March 30, when the high temperature was 66 degrees, the interior of cars can soar 40 degrees in an hour, say experts, and small children are particularly susceptible to heat exposure. Bryce Balfour was not breathing when university police arrived.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Elizabeth Killeen acknowledged that the death was accidental, and asked for $25,000 bond, citing the mother's lack of a criminal record. Raelyn Balfour is also prohibited from contact with children outside the family, and may only have supervised contact with family members. Balfour has a 14-year-old son.

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62 comments

It is very easy for people to make judgements about this situation without knowing that circumstances or the people involved. Have I asked "HOW IN THE WORLD COULD SOMEONE FORGET THEIR CHILD IS IN THE CAR AND LEAVE HIM IN THERE??!!" I think it is probably the very first reaction ANYONE would have. But can you imagine being the MOTHER of the child who LOVED and adored that baby and having to ask yourself that question over and over and over. How do i KNOW this mother loved her baby?? Because I was Bryce's babysitter. I saw the interaction between Bryce and his mother every single day . I saw this child's eyes light up when his Mom or Dad came to pick him up and heard his little squeal of delight and saw him immediately start to play pattycake because it was his favorite thing to do with his Mommy! Lyn Balfour LOVED her baby. There is a danger in trying to be a "SuperMom"---trying to be everything to everyone. To be a great mother, to be successful and do a superb job at work, to be a great friend. Lyn gives everything she does 110% and tries so hard to be the BEST at whatever she does. As a single Mom, I can tell you that it does get hard and sometimes your mind is going in 10 different directions trying to balance it all. I think if any mother will stoip and be honest about it, you can at least realte to feeling pulled in many different directions. We think "But I could NEVER forget to take my baby out of the car". And I know without a doubt that 10 days ago Lyn Balfour would have said the same thing. We are HUMAN. We make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes have horrible, devastating consequences that can never, ever be undone. Baby Bryce is in heaven in the arms of God. He loved his little bouncer more than anything and i have this beautiful vision of him jumping and bouncing on clouds with the angels. His family is left with emptiness and silence and a huge, huge void that can never be replaced. My heart is BROKEN over the loss of this precious little baby, but i caanot even BEGIN to imagine the unfathomable sorrow and unimaginable grief that Bryce's family is experiencing. People have commented that "there has to be some kind of punishment." What kind of punishment could POSSIBLY be worse than knowing that the child you brought into the world---the precious GIFT that God gave you---the baby you loved so much---is gone because of a mistake that you made??? Today is Easter and I have been thinking of Bryce all day. First I thought, "Oh, he's not here for his first Easter", but then my little girl said to me"But Mommy, He gets to be with Jesus on Easter and that's even better than the Easter Bunny." That is so very true. I miss him so much. His family misses him so much. For those of the Christian faith, Easter is all about FORGIVENESS. Jesus suffered and died so that we, as unworthy as we may be, can have forgiveness of our sins........and certainly forgiveness of our mistakes. If there are any perfect parents out there who haven't made mistakes with their children, then I suppose you can point fingers and accuse. I know that I have made lots and lots of mistakes in my lifetime and I am just so thankful that I have a forgiving heavenly father that knows my heart and is willing to give me more chances to do better. Lyn made a mistake and she takes full responsibility for that mistake.....it is a mistake that has left a hole in her heart that can never, ever be filled. We need to understand that it really truly could have been ANY OF US as much as we think we are perfect parents or exercise the utmost caution with our children. WE ARE HUMAN AND WE MAKE MISTAKES. Lyn Balfour loved Bryce. I loved Bryce! Prosecuting her is not going to bring him back.

Great logic from Sidonie. Why would we ever want to hold anybody accountable for NEGLIGENTLY or RECKLESSLY taking innocent life. Following that logic, I guess we shouldn't hold an airline captain responsible for piling up an airplane because he started thinking about his shopping list when he was supposed to be landing it. After all, the guilt of taking 50 innocent lives is bad enough and holding him responsible would prevent him from being the pilot he could have been. BOTTOM LINE: Some people should not be pilots/parents because they have proven to not be responsible when people are counting on them to be responsible.

OR, when one of those boneheads on Hwy 29 kills a pedestrian because he/she was talking on a cell phone instead of driving, then we should just let them go because we are sure they feel really bad about it.

You live on your planet where nobody is held accountable and see what your lifespan is. I guarantee it will not be long!

I think it is pretty interesting for the people that know Lyn to act surprised. As if she wasn't tugged in many directions and at times acted spacey.
Yes, she is a great person but many things slipped her mind because she was so busy.
Can we just think about Bryce for a second? Strapped in a car seat and helpless all day?
Can we stop and think why she "thought that she had dropped him off"? Was it the fact that she was on the cell phone with an important office call that distracted her because they needed her in the office ASAP?
Cell phones are big distractions while driving and again if you know Lyn, you know her cell phone rings non stop. There is so much to this story that won't ever be said because of the place she worked so that makes people come up with their own story.

I was driving my child to day care the other morning and I got a call from the office that distracted me and I passed right by the day care. Thank God my child was old enough to say "Mommy, what about me?"
Would I have gotten to work and worked all day and not thought twice about my child?? I shiver to think of what Lyn is going through. I know she loved her precious baby boy Bryce. There is no doubt in my mind.
Lyn will need special help after all is said and done and my prayers are with her.

Lovelace, yes, pilots, doctors, car drivers and lifeguards make mistakes as well. But in all of those cases they have malpractice or accidental insurance. However, in our day to day lives there is no insurance for that type of mistake. You amaze me at how GOD like you make yourself sound, and how you must seeminly NEVER make a mistake....I wish we could all be a perfect as you....

how unfortunate, poor baby at least its in a better place with the angels , my prayers go out to the entire family.

Second degree murder?

They are going to have to come up with some pretty damning evidence to convince me that this mother should be charged with second-degree murder. I don't have any inside info about this case, but nothing has come out so far to convince me that anyone would be justified by throwing her in prison. What about the 14-year-old son? Will be benefit from this?

cbs19 had a great story on this and has video on their website.

How can they prosecute the mother and family after such a loss.....The prosecuter's office is apparently more concerned about what the good people of Charlottesville will think rather than the hell that the mother and more importantly the father and son will have to endure while trying to put there lives back together. I know that the people of Charlottesville will wrap their understanding and love around this family AND the mother and pray for them everyday. I will call the prosecuting attorney's office as much as I can to tell them how unjuste this is, please do the same. 970-3176.

Is it common to forget your kid all day in the back seat of a car?

VA continues to be #1 for business...because employees never get time to enjoy life, and don't even get time to remember kids in the back seat. Work over life. The basis of VA.

Death is the cessation of life in a biological organism. It happens. Now...back to work.

Yes, I feel bad for the entire family. Nonetheless, some form of punishment is required. Society must send a message that it expects parents to behave responsibly regarding their children, which means not forgetting about a helpless 9 month old in the car for an ENTIRE day. Can we excuse the torture the child went through? The only person that baby had to depend upon was its mother. Apparently, SOMETHING more important was on the mother's mind. I don't have the answer of what an appropriate punishment is, but this kind of action cannot be overlooked.

Just for clarification, I know close friends of the family, and while I do not know the mother personally, she did not forget to drop off her son. She thought she had already dropped off her son as the daily routine for the family had changed that week. The mother did not just leave the child in the car ALL day, she didn't know he was not at the babysitters. I applaud the babysitter for giving us personal knowledge of the babies mother. What form of punishment can be worse than having to live with the death of your child for the rest of her life. Does the father and son deserve to be punished as well?!? That is what will happen if she is sentenced to prison. Imagine her older son trying to get through this without his mother. How is it possible that the youth paster from Richmond who KNOWINGLY left his baby in the car and then forgot about the baby was only charged with manslaughter, where this women had thought she had already dropped her son off gets felony child neglect and 2nd degree murder?!? I know that no punishment that is met out teaches anyone in society a message. What we should be doing is taking all of the technology we have today and ensuring that if a family member is distracted, busy, sick, tired, stressed, that it reminds us when we leave the vehicle that the child is still inside. That is what we as a society should be doing.

What on earth does Johnny Appleseed mean by "some punishment is required"? Like, if she doesn't go to jail, somehow she escapes punishment? I don't know what planet JA is living on that he/she thinks somehow she "gets away" with something if she doesn't go through the criminal justice system. She is paying for her mistake--now, and for the rest of her life, in a way that our justice system could never match.

Society has to "send a message" in this case? Again, what planet are you on? Like, if she isn't prosecuted, that's a message that we *approve* of mothers leaving their children accidentally in the back seats of their cars? A bunch of parents feel like they've gotten the green-light for this? The only message that needs to be taken away from this incident is that human frailty is all too real, and anyone can make a mistake that has tragic, irreparable consequences.

Putting jail time on top of it is superfluous. As a mother, I don't need the threat of jail time to make me try to be as careful as I can at all times; the threat of losing my baby is enough. It's not like moms out there are saying "wow, I was really considering leaving my baby in the car even though I know it might kill him, but now that I see someone charged with murder for that, boy I'll think twice!!"

JA writes "apparently, SOMETHING more important was on the mother's mind." I wonder if JA has EVER in his/her life gotten distracted by something, absorbed in thoughts about something, and taken his/her mind off something important. I sure have. It happens at least once a day--I'm driving and yes my mind should 100% be on my driving, but guess what? sometimes my mind drifts off and I start thinking about what I've got to do at work that day, or I start replaying a conversation I had with my spouse. I've been lucky enough my whole life that I've never had a tragic accident as a result of my inattention. But that's the only difference between me and Lyn Balfour--I've been lucky, and she wasn't. There but for the grace of God go all of us.

Unfortunately, we're going to hear more of JA's brand of mindless, platitudinous reasoning. Our society has practically criminalized all mistakes--there is no room for error anymore, you'll either be sued or prosecuted. It's like we will no longer tolerate human frailty.

I speak as someone was on the receiving end of a mistake that resulted in the loss of a pregnancy. It was a mistake; I forgave the person; it was one of the most transformative things that I've ever done.

Let's pray that there is some way that these charges get dropped; this is not how our society should be.

This tragic story should make us all consider what our priorities must be. We need to slow down enough to be able to focus on what is important, especially the children in our care. I don't doubt that this mother is a good person who loved her child, but the sad truth is that you have to pay more attention to your responsibilities when you become a parent and you just can't safely forget a child for a whole day. If we are going to have laws against child endangerment, I don't see how we can be selective about enforcement.

What happened to Bryce is a tragic and aweful mistake on his mother's part, but no one could no that more than she does. Our society has to forgive her so that she can forgive herself. Myfamily had something terrible happened as a result of a stupid, aweful mistake that resulted in my baby sister being severely burned. Because of love and prayers we were so very blessed that she recovered and healed meraculously. We were so lucky not to loose her. Bryce's family was refretfully not as lucky. When the horrble thing happened in my family my Dad was to be prosecuted but my mother faught hard to keep charges being pressed, even though she was upset, and angy. My mom forgave my Dad but he never forgave himself, as a result it changed the person he was, and kept him from being dad he could have been. Bryce is gone and his Mom will feel the pain forever, but her other son needs his Mom strong and whole.

Wait a minute, there, Jessica.What exactly do you mean "the mother did not FORGET to drop the child off" but "thought she had already dropped him off". It's the same thing. She didn't drop the kid off, she went to work, didn't think about the baby all day until the babysitter called her and then went outside and he was dead. From all reports, he DID get left in the car all day and dies as a result. Is this some kind of defense strategy for temporary insanity or something? That it makes it better because she is delusional and thought that she really had done what she was suppose to do? Mincing words doesn't change the facts at all. That baby was counting on her to keep him safe and she didn't for whatever reason. It really doesn't matter why. Is this woman really accepting repsonsibility and feeling horrible guilt or is she looking for excuses? To me, excuses=guilt. Whether it was an accident or not, we a child is dead because a parent failed to keep him safe. Making excuses makes me wonder about whether or not it really was an accident.

2nd degree murder is manslaughter. Look it up.

Under our system, we are all accountable in many ways for the harm we unintentionally do to others. On the emotional level, it is easy to feel that there but for the grace of God go I, when we hear about stories like this. (Although personally I can't imagine forgetting my baby for an entire day.) But I have been able to imagine making a serious error driving and hurting someone, another common scenario. Morally and legally, negligence and bad judgement are not the same as intentionally harming another person. However, the harm done to innocents in cases where the harm is unintentional is something addressed by the law. If you disagree with the laws you should work to change them, rather than see injustice when the laws are applied.

Joe, it sounds like to me that you haven't ever made a mistake in your life...And when you say an entire day, if you had thought something had already been done to find out later it had not, why would you check on it. If she had assumed in the daily routine that she had already dropped off her son, to later find out that she was mistaken is not an excuse, rather something that she will forever recount in her mind. You never know what a person is going through in their lives and it is easy to JUDGE from the other side of the fence. But I ask honestly, haven't you been driving somewhere and your thoughts race and then you suddenly realize you are home and don't know how you got there?!? Or that you thought you had an errand to run, only to realize that you in fact didn't do it? I HAVE children and that has happened to me when you are running and have so many things to accomplish. I am not making excuses for the mother. I am sure that any punishment she will receive is nothing compared to opening that car door to realize her WORST NIGHTMARE and having to live it over and over in her mind. And I agree with Gail, that instead of complaining about laws they should be changed. NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE SAYS, a mistake is just that, but to harm or intentionally neglect is completely different. If a person is drinking and driving and kills someone they intentionally harmed someone by there actions. If a person is driving a car and accidentally hits someone in the rear and they go to the hospital or worse and there was no distraction (cell phone etc), the person is USUALLY (not always) charged with a crime. Has our society gotten so high and mighty that they can't understand a mistake regardless of what the situation is. And I look at this family and also realize it is not just the mother that is going to go through all of this but the entire family, and you certainly didn't mention anything about them.

2nd Degree murder is NOT manslaughter, it is 2nd degree murder, manslaughter depending on the code is a lesser charge. And it depends on which code she has been charged with. In this case, it is felony homicide, which is 2nd Degree murder.

I don't believe that the mother has or is trying to make any excuses. It sounds as though none of the people here know that facts of this case and are trying to condemn her because of her situation. I do see a difference in someone thinking that they did something as opposed to "forgetting". We do it all the time. I have went to the store and picked up all the items on my list to get home and go DAMN I missed something. I know that this is much worse, but our culture is stressed on work and we don't know what the mom's day was like. I for one, will pray for her and hope that whoever hears this case will weight all the information before making a decision, regardless of what that decision may be. B

OH GEE, I forgot to put my car in park because I was thinking about all the things I needed to do as soon as I stepped inside my home. Sorry my car hit your 3 year old. BUT IT WAS ONLY A MISTAKE. We all forget. I shouldn't be punished for having my head up my a@@. I"m stressed, give me a break.

Yes, I feel bad for all the family. AND I AM TRULY glad that I don't have to determine what the proper punishment is because I don't know what it should be because I don't know all the facts. Nonetheless, the bottom line is that our society is one that refuses to take responsibility or make anybody take responsibility. PARENTS MUST TAKE RESPONSIBLITY. As a result of allowing parents to shirk responsibility, we now have a generation of children who think they are entitled to something for nothing and who believe they do not need to take responsibility for any of their actions.

Here is the research on 2nd degree murder.
§ 18.2-32. First and second degree murder defined; punishment

Murder, other than capital murder, by poison, lying in wait, imprisonment, starving, or by any willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing, or in the commission of, or attempt to commit, arson, rape, forcible sodomy, inanimate or animate object sexual penetration, robbery, burglary or abduction, except as provided in§ 18.2-31 , is murder of the first degree, punishable as a Class 2 felony.

All murder other than capital murder and murder in the first degree is murder of the second degree and is punishable by confinement in a state correctional facility for not less than five nor more than forty years.

By the way, felony murder is when somebody is inadvertently killed in the course of committing a felony (i.e. bank robbery, breaking and entering).

OK in the definition I don't see manslaughter.....and can you tell me what code this women is charged with? You threw out a bunch of numbers, but I didn't see it in the papers. Do you have a line on it that the rest of us doesn't know. And why you sit in judgement of this women, do YOU yourself have any children?!? I gather not. The MOTHER is taking responsibility, she is here and willing to face the music isn't she?!? She didn't run off to Europe......I have seen no reason for her not taking responsibility for her actions. Can you tell me any different? Yes, some parents shirk there responsibilities, I for one can attest that where my children attend daycare that parents bring their children dirty and hungry, but from what the babysitter who apparently knew the women stated above, this woman loved her children and took the very best of her children and worked hard to put her family first. Every situation is different with different circumstances that is why there isn't a specific sentence for a specific crime. BUT I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT ANY PUNISHMENT THIS PERSON IS GIVEN WILL EVER REPLACE HER LOSS AND THE FACT THAT SHE WAS RESPONSIBLE. THAT IN ITSELF IS MORE PUNISHMENT THAN ANY COURT COULD MEET OUT. We will agree to disagree....

And if my three year old was hit by someone else and it was an accident, I know that my belief in GOD would not only allow me to forgive this person, but GOD would wrap his loving arms around me and the other person so that we would be able to heal.

Religion solves all problems. Don't worry. Be happy.

More states have laws about leaving dogs/cats in a car than they do about babies. Gotta love it.

Jessica, for one who rants about religion you seem to sit in judgment more than anyone. READ MY PRIOR POSTS more closely. I have two beutiful daughters. The difference between me and you is that I would fully expect to be punished if I negligently or recklessly killed one of them. Same as when I get a speeding ticket . . . if I know I was speeding I expect to be fined. Thus, when I'm pulled over I simply pay the fine and don't fill the officer full of excuses about how busy of a day I've had so I stopped paying attention to what I was doing. I just happen to take responsibility seriously.

Jessica, you can find VA statutes on line. You will notice that there are many types of 2nd degree murder. One of them is felony homicide. One is manslaughter. Punishment varies depending upon which sub-category of 2nd degree murder a person is charged with.

If you are interested in knowing more about homicide, I would recommend one of the many hornbooks on criminal law that are available at the VA law school library.

Again, I don't believe that the mother is making any excuses and she is facing the music just like anyone else. As you will read, I don't know the family personally but only a friend of the family and I assume that in her own mind she feels that she deserves to be punished. But again, a speeding ticket is far different then inadvertently causing your own child's death. What punishment could a court system possibly give that she won't do to herself everyday of her life. I think she took responsibility by not trying to cover it up, like so many others would have tried to do, and to call 911 immediately knowing what the outcome would be. If I am not mistaken that is called responsibility.

PS I did read your prior posts and you don't mention that you have any children. And killing someone outside of your family say....on 29 while talking on the cell phone not only is not the same as accidentally killing someone in your immediate family, but negligent because they were talking on the cell phone. I am not saying that the mother is not negligent based on the facts, I just don't know, but I am sure that any punishment she receives won't compare to what she will go through the REST OF HER LIFE and in her family's life.

We without sin can cast a stone at this mother, but I don't think there will be any stones to throw because none of us is perfect. I think this family has suffered enouth with losing their darling child and so we need to pray for them and let them know that ewe love them and will lift them up to the Lord in our Prayers.Who knows, tomorrow we could face a tragic in our life, so Christians lets all join together and pray.

How do you know anything about what the family feels? Do you know them? Do you know whether it was an intentional act that was later claimed to be a mistake? I'm not making any accusations. I'm simply saying I do not think anybody here knows any of the facts and everybody ought to stop being so presumptive. However, I think Johnny A. hits the nail on the head. We have a criminal justice system to hold people responsible. I believe in forgiveness AND in society ensuring people are responsible. One can be forgiven while still taking steps to ensure that individual and society receive the message that when a person chooses to have children that they are expected to make them a priority (above work, shopping lists, etc.). Mistakes happen. But when mistakes cost somebody their life then society can't just shrug their shoulders and say "Killing somebody is punishment enough, I'm sure they will never do it again." REALLY. . . .

I have known Mrs. Balfour a little over a year. I have spoken with her daily if not several times a day. I spoke with her that horific day. This day is one day that I did not ask how Bryce was. I question myself (and so do my coworkers) if I only asked maybe just maybe we could have prevented this tragedy. I know Mrs. Balfour loved that baby with all her hart. She works hard not just with her career at the JAG school she serves our country and is a loving caring mother to her children. My line of profession is not law enforcement, not a prosicuter, not a judge. The law will make their decision for punishment. Lyn has to live with what she has done for the rest of her live. My heart goes out to Lyn and her family.

I think we all need to consider how we can help and support families in this crazy world. We need to consider how we can promote real family values so that parents can slow down and focus more on their children. And we need to consider practical measures which may help harrassed parents. I know that when I was a preschool teacher, I did not always call parents if a child had an unexpected absence; now I would make that a morning priority. Perhaps when family routines change, parents could make it a habit to quickly check in that everything went ok- my family often does that kind of "did you remember?" kind of mundane communication. Perhaps more carpooling would help harrassed young parents be a bit more accountable to each other.
My heart goes out to this family and to all the people such as "coworker" who are taking a share of the responsibility and grief in this tragedy. Let's all try to think of ways to avoid such tragedies in the future. This sort of incident happens in America every summer.

This is the last time I will write on here or comment on this publicly at all. I have watched the comments continue to come in the alsmot "fighting" between people who don't even know each other....and from their descriptions, also know very little about the family involved or the exact circumstances. NONE of us knows the exact circumstances except for God and Lyn. This morning I looked at a picture of Bryce and just CRIED AND CRIED AND CRIED......and the very sad thing is that, though I have thought about all the legal junk surrounding this case every day and in that way have thought of Bryce, I haven't truly even finished my own grieving process and just felt sad and missed Bryce in the same way I would have if this had been a "normal" circumstance. The media, who are the ones that I feared would create huge public emotions over this situation, has been so respectful and professionall. I think it may be time for the rest of us to butt out and keep our opinions to ourselves because of the huge consequences it may have. I do want to say that Gail has a very valid point about working together and helping each other. How many times I have thought, "If only I had kept on calling that morning......." Trust me that the detectives on this case are investigating every possible angle and if they want or need our information, they WILL contact you. If you have any true information that would help this case one way or the other, then perhaps you should let the legal authorites know. However, our personal opinions and speculations and heresay are just that. So many people have commented about "doing something to help or keep this from happening again." I would encourage these people to take action and GO FOR IT. I was thinking about the comment about technology. Does anyone want to get rich and have the resources to put into a new invention?? Create a carseat or some kind of car device that really does make an alarm if the child is left in the car!! Get involved with public education. Though I know not to leave people or animals in a car, I had no idea that the temperature in a car raises at such an alarming rate on even a relatively cool day. For those who have time and interest, use it for good and do something that can truly make a difference!! As I said, this will be my last comment on here. All I can say is "Bryce, I love you, baby and I miss you---rest in peace, precious." and to the family "God Bless You as you try to deal with all of this and go on with your lives. Forgive and stay strong for each other---it is what Bryce would have wanted!!"

Whitney,

You will thank me for this. The solution to your anger over what people are saying is simple. Do not come to this blog and read what people say. Your welcome.

I mean You're welcome. Sorry.

Very very sad case.

I do feel that she should be charged criminally, although 2nd degree murder seems a bit much.

It seems like with cell phones and email, employees everywhere, not just UVA, are expected to be available 24/7. For many people, even when they go on vacation, it's still expected that if an "emergency" comes up at the office, they'll be available via cell phone. And yet UVA does not seem to believe that they should be flexible employers as well. I've known people who wanted to work at home because their kids were sick and were told nope, you have to take time off if you don't actually physically come in to the office. Even though they could do their job just as well at home, thanks to the cell phone and email. Yet if something came up at work, they were called anyway, despite the fact that they were taking vacation time. The fact that Mrs. Balfour apparently did not think about her baby once all day is an indication that she was working way too hard. And having serious cell phone convos while driving? We all know the dangers of that.

Whitney may have a good idea about getting some type of device set up in infant car seats. Children being left in cars in an ongoing occurrence. Career orientated adults get wraped up in their busy schedules and forget. Don't get Mrs. Balfour's situation confused with the parent who leaves a child in a car because they are just too lazy to take them out.

I recall a few years ago a van driver for a day care center leaving a child in the van after picking them up from school. And a bus driver leaving child in the bus. This idea may be good not just for infant seats possibly booster seats also.

That kind of technology would be good. However, technology will never completey alleviate a parent from the responsibility that they must accept. We will continue to see situations like this as long as parents falter in their responsibility.

Lovelace's final sentence above, translated, reads thusly: "we will continue to see situations like this as long as humans continue to be frail and imperfect."

Well, yes. I don't see any technology coming down the pike that makes up for the fact that humans are imperfect and make mistakes. It seems to be a fundamental and unalterable aspect of the human condition. But certainly we can use technology to offset some of our weaknesses. We do that already, all the time: automatic shut-offs on devices that would start a fire if left on indefinitely (like a hot-water kettle); back-up sensors in SUVs to help prevent backing into someone or something; child-proof caps on medication bottles in case you inadvertently leave medicine within a child's reach; the list goes on and on.

Some people point to these kinds of safety devices and say "it's just relieving people of their responsibility to be safe!" Personally, I think that argument is inane. It assumes that in the absences of safeguards, people will "learn" to be responsible. I think what history has shown us is that in the absence of safeguards, even more accidental deaths happen. Safeguards aren't foolproof, of course, and sometimes the presence of safeguards just leads to new kinds of accidents, but in general I'm thankful for the little electronic reminders that exist to help keep my eye on the various balls I juggle.

It just doesn't make sense to me when Lovelace writes "when a person chooses to have children ... they are expected to make them a priority (above work, shopping lists, etc.)." I'm not arguing with the part about making your kids a priority; I'm arguing with his/her apparent definition of how you do that. This statement suggests that a responsible parent is one who has 100% of his/her attention focused on his/her children 100% of the time. 99% isn't good enough--you can never, while you are with your child, momentarily think "oh, what am I going to make for dinner tonight" or "wait a minute, is that Dave Matthews at the corner table?" To do so, by Lovelace's logic, is to fail to make your kids a priority. This is, of course, impossible. And I don't see the value of setting an unreachable standard and then browbeating--or prosecuting--parents who fail to meet it.

Everyone falters in their responsibilities (as a parent, as a child, as a worker, as a leader, as a human being) at some point, and more than once. It is only now and then that really tragic consequences result (at which point people want to point and say "look at THAT irresponsible person!"). I carry my baby up and down a fairly steep set of stairs every morning; nearly every morning I remind myself to grab the rail, go slowly, and watch for the next step. Some mornings, though, I just am not as careful as others--sometimes I don't grab the rail, and sometimes I go faster than I should. I've been lucky--I've never slipped with her in my arms (though I did once without her). I really defy anyone to say that it's possible for any human being never to make a mistake like that. But that's what I hear in this call for parents to make their kids "a priority." My kids are my #1 priority; the fact that on a daily basis I take my eyes off of them momentarily and occasionally forget whether or not I closed the baby gate does not mean they are not a priority. It means that I am a human being.

God help us all if every accident is de jure a crime.

Thank God Sidonie is back to set everybody straight. Without her wisdom we would all be lost.

To all those pilots, doctors, car drivers and lifeguards who killed everybody through their negligent or reckless actions. . . you are hereby excused. Afterall, anybody could have faltered.

Whoops. Everybody - somebody.

As stated before. I take responsibility seriously in a society that refuses to accept responsibility. If I was flying my airplane (yes, I am a pilot) and wreck it because my mind wandered off then I would expect to be punished. I take responsibility for those innocent lives that DEPEND upon me because they are essentially helpless. Having a busy day is no excuse for a pilot or parent to NEGLIGENTLY or Recklessly kill somone. If you believe it is, then God help me to never trust my kids with you Jessica. Because I take my responsibility seriously enough that I would never forgive myself for leaving my kids with somebody who believes Sh@@ happens and if somebody dies then whatever.

I don't believe for one second that SH)) happens if somebody dies, and if you had read any of my previous statements you would know that. And I am not saying that an indivdual should not take responsiblity for their actions in a professional or personal capacity. HOWEVER, ANY PERSON CAN MAKE A MISTAKE IN THEIR LIVES TO INCLUDE SUCH A TRAGIC ACCIDENT. If you were a pilot and PAID to do a job, then yes I do believe you should be held accountable. Your feeling of loss if you accidentally killed someone else WOULD BE IN NO COMPARISON to how you would feel if you hurt someone in your own family or your own child. I know of a family that was visiting relatives and the mother was talking to her own mother while outside and her toddler accidentally drowned. Was she negligent?!? If a father runs in the house to answer the phone and a loose fence is pushed open and a child gets hit was he negligent?!? People like you just simply DO NOT have the capacity to look upon themselves and realize that as stated above WE ARE HUMAN. You must not be for you simply don't have the capacity to see that ANYONE, including you can make mistakes. I only pray that you may one day have the capacity to see what others see....compassion and understanding.....We will agree to disagree.

I will agree that I would NEVER leave my children with you.

Based on your logic, we should not hold the pilot accountable (who survived) for taking the lives of dozens of people in Kentucky last year. After all, the mistake he made about the runway is a simple mistake that could happen to any human. OH! I forgot, if helpless people are depending upon someone who is getting paid to do a job then that paid employee should be held accountable if they act negligently or recklessly. However, if a helpless child is depending upon their parents, then any mistakes by the parent are excusable because parents don't get paid. If a paid babysitter makes the same mistake, then the babysitter should be brought to justice for acting negligently because he/she was getting paid. If that is your logic, then I hope every child(in your world) spends their life with a paid babysitter.

Lovelace, you seem to have a different definition of being "held accountable" than I do. This mother will be held accountable for her actions for the rest of her life. She will grieve for the child for the rest of her life and regret her mistake forever. Do we need to mix the justice system into this? Don't forget that she also has a 14-year-old son and a husband. They are no doubt also grieving. How will it benefit the son or her husband to see her go to prison, to lose her as well?

Based on everything stated here, it sounds like the mom was talking on her cell phone the entire way to work and became distracted enough by the call to forget her baby was in the car. Can those of you condemming her state with certainty that you would NEVER make this kind of mistake? That you are so perfect that no child in your care could ever come into harm's way? Mistakes happen. Yes, she was overly busy, yes, her priority should have been her child. But unfortunately with working parents that's just not always the case. As long as parents have other responsibilities besides their kids, mistakes will happen. In this case, her mistake spiraled into something tragic.

In this case, the family needs to move on. Prosecuting Mrs. Balfour is a waste of our justice system's resources, because it won't benefit anyone.

Megan--great points, particularly re: the limited resources of the justice system. Why go after a person without a history of negligence or reckless behavior, without a tremendous risk of harming society--why spend all that money simply to "send a message" that hardly needs to be sent (because the more powerful message has already been sent--the death of the child)?

Just wondering: HAVE criminal charges been filed against the surviving pilot in the plane crash in Lexington? I don't find that they have.

As I understand it, in criminal law there's a difference between negligence/recklessness (which I haven't been defending, though Lovelace suggests that I have) and accidents. Reckless behavior is behavior that the person knows (or can be expected to have known) was dangerous but the person did it anyway--like drinking before driving. Like, "I know this is a huge gamble, but I'm going to do it anyway." I don't see recklessness in Balfour's case because I don't see that she knowingly left her baby in the car ("I know this is unsafe, but I'm going to do it anyway!).

Negligence is probably more applicable to this case, but it seems to me a more vague standard: acting without "reasonable" caution, resulting in unintentional injury. What would have been reasonable caution to take in the case of driving your child to day care? What is it reasonable to expect of people? I've already said that Lovelace and others seem to be setting an unreasonable standard of caution--100% attention 100% of the time. That's where I see our culture in general shifting to define as "negligence" (and therefore criminal) a much wider range of incidents and behaviors. I think when all accidents get subsumed under the category of negligence that we end up in a bad place, as a society.

As stated. I wouldn't leave my children with either of you.

And you're thinking that we care because....why?

DUH!? Based on what you said I don't think you do care about society enforcing/reinforcing responsibility. I was simply re-emphasizing my point. I think your response says it all.

While I have read all of the compassionate information you have written....stating that the mother was on her cell phone, that she didn't have daycare, and all the rest of the speculation is just that speculation. However, all this is ultimately hurting the case because any factual information is ultimately being tainted with regard to future jury prospects. I agree with both sides on this matter, but wonder if all of this is allowing speculation and presumptions to rule this case. Please enough now. Let the Balfour family grieve in peace and let the justice system do its job and the attorneys that represent them and Mrs. Balfour do their job. Any more speculations will only hurt the truth. All have valid points and could probably debate this issue until next year. Please enough already, let the family just grieve in peace and let the evidence speak for or against the accused. No matter what your position this family lost a sweet child and it will take (maybe not understanding) love and prayers to see them through. You may not agree with why or how the baby passed on, but I believe that all can be compassionate about a family losing a child. Enough already.

MJ,

If you don't like reading the blog, then don't come here. Simple solution to your woe.

You sir, are immature. I didn't say I didn't like reading the blog. I asked for a little peace and respect for this family and their greiving process. Apparently you felt that the statement was directed towards you however I didn't mention you at all. You seem to be self conscious and giving this family respect and peace and allowing the justice system to go through the necassaryt process is beyond your grasp. The above comment was not directed toward you specifically. Grow up and quite taking things quite so personally.

MJ, get off your high horse. I didn't think your comments were directed at me. You assumed that. You have now proven the assertiona that assume really does mean to make an ASS out of U and Me! I just didn't like your whining because blogs are made to express differnt viewpoints. So I repeat . . . if you don't like seeing an opinion different from your own then stay away from the blogs. Derrrrrr.

Oh, sorry about the typos. I'm sure you'll have something to say about that.

Then Lovelace will come back with something he thinks is witty and MJ will continue to respond. Then this blog will go off on a tangent that is unrelated to the original thread. Brilliant!

Am I drunk yet . . . when I drink I ALWAYS drink alone.

I think I left something in the car . . . Oh well, it can wait until morning. I've got more drinking to do. A man has to have his priorities.

I have not read or heard on the news that the mother was on her cell on her way to work. Only from co-worker #2. I did hear about the retreived call from the sitter so she did have child care. Hope we have not forgot where the mother works?!? She knows somebody or somebody who knows somebody to assist her with the legal system. If I'm not mistaken this is election year. And politics are a bitch!

I"m not voting for any DA that doesn't have a hard drink once in a while and take hold people accountable for gross negligence. But if I have to choose between the two, the DA has to like his whiskey cheap and straight.

Hello Family, Friends and others:
I too believe that Lyn would never intentionally hurt her babies. I remember Lyn when she was stationed in Hawaii. She was a hard worker and she was a loving parent. I also remember when she and her husband were trying so desperately to have a child. It was her desire and joy for her to have another child. I just heard of this tragedy a couple of days ago and decided to see if I could find out more information. I feel extremely sadden by their family loss. I pray that the Lord will strengthen them and give them peace. A peace that will alow them to once again have joy, hope, trust and love in life. I also pray that their remaining son is sheltered and comforted through the loss of his brother. Lyn, if you ever read this please know that the Lord's are praying for you and your family. If there's something I can do to assist you please let me know. Aloha Baby Bryce and Mahalo to all those that lend their prayers and hope to this family.