A 4-year-old girl died Monday in central China’s Hunan province after her father left her in a hot car for nearly nine hours, Beijing Time reports. The child’s kindergarten — which the parents blame for not alerting them to their daughter’s absence — has since agreed to pay the couple 32,000 yuan ($4,800) in “assistance funds.”
The mother did not realize her daughter hadn’t been at the school, located in Heshan District in the city of Yiyang, until she went to pick her up at around 5 p.m., according to the report. She and her husband then searched for the child and found her dead in the back seat of their car.
The father, surnamed Hu, told Beijing Time in a video interview that he had been distracted by a phone call on his way to drop the girl off at school Monday morning and locked the car in an undisclosed location without realizing she was still inside. Daytime temperatures in Yiyang exceeded 30 degrees Celsius on Monday.
In Beijing Time’s video, the parents said they blame their daughter’s teachers at the kindergarten for not contacting them when the girl did not show up for school. Hu, the father, argued that the kindergarten should bear most of the responsibility for his daughter’s death. “Three teachers manage a dozen students — why didn’t they notice one was missing?” he told the reporter. “If they had contacted me at 9 a.m., I would have realized the problem.”
On Wednesday, the Heshan District education bureau confirmed the case with Beijing Time, and an official at the bureau surnamed Xiong said a police investigation had concluded that the girl’s death was the result of her father’s negligence. “This has nothing to do with the kindergarten,” Xiong is quoted as saying.
But to placate the couple, the school agreed to participate in a mediation overseen by the education bureau — and the parents eventually agreed to accept 32,000 yuan in “humanitarian aid” from the school. When Sixth Tone called a contact number listed for the kindergarten on Thursday, a voice message said the number was not in service.
The case has outraged netizens on microblogging platform Weibo, with many panning Hu for failing to keep his child safe from harm. “It’s shameless of you to blame — and even accept compensation from — the school after killing your own daughter,” wrote one user. “Since the parents asked the kindergarten for compensation, it seems only fair that the father should be charged with manslaughter,” commented another.
According to the child safety nonprofit Kids and Cars, around 38 children die from being trapped inside vehicles each year in the U.S. In China, meanwhile, domestic media reported 141 cases involving 147 children being trapped in vehicles between 2013 and 2018. Of those 147 kids, 40 were reported to have died.
Editor: David Paulk.