Girl, 2, dies after being left in car for over six hours in south

Investigation finds father forgot to drop Roya Khalil Abu Ajaj off at kindergarten, then drove to work; doctors strive to resuscitate her but are unable to save her life

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Roya Khalil Abu Ajaj (Courtesy)
Roya Khalil Abu Ajaj (Courtesy)

A 2-year-old girl was declared dead Sunday after she was left for some six and half hours in a car in the southern region of the country.

She was identified in Hebrew media as Roya Khalil Abu Ajaj.

The toddler was rushed unconscious to a medical clinic in the Bedouin town of Kuseife where doctors were joined by a Magen David Adom ambulance crew in their efforts to resuscitate her. However, the attempts failed and doctors were forced to declare her dead.

Police opened an investigation into the incident and the initial findings were that her father forgot to drop her off when he took her to kindergarten along with her sister, whom he safely delivered, and then drove to work, leaving the car with her inside at around 8 a.m.

The kindergarten teacher later called the girl’s mother to find out why the child had not arrived, and she then called her husband, who realized she was still in the car, Channel 12 reported.

The father then rushed her to the medical clinic, which alerted MDA at 2:30 p.m. She was declared dead an hour later.

Temperatures in the Kuseife region topped 83° Fahrenheit (28°Celsius) on Sunday.

According to the Beterem child safety activism group, in the decade 2010-2020, 35 children died from being forgotten or trapped in vehicles in Israel out of over 800 recorded incidents.

Beterem CEO Orly Silbinger said in a statement that forgetting a child in a vehicle is something that can happen to anyone, in particular if they are distracted by a change in routine, tiredness, or stress.

Silbinger urged parents to wary of the dangers and to adopt habits to prevent children from being forgotten.

“Don’t tell me that it can’t happen. Efforts at habits save lives,” she said in a statement. “Open the back door after every journey, call partners when parking, or install a reminder on your phone.”

In August new regulations will come into effect requiring the installation of an electronic alarm system on the child car seat that will automatically alert parents if a child is left behind in the chair.

Silbinger welcomed the change in regulations, saying “every system is another defense, beyond the adoption of safe behavior.”

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