DECATUR, GA-- He is a strapping teenage soccer fan now. But Charlie's mother, Stephanie Ramage holds a searing memory from seventeen years ago, when Charlie was a colicky ten month old.
"We would be up all night with him. So I was in this constant state of exhaustion," Ramage recalled of her days as a new mother.
She worked worked a high-stress, low-paying job covering news for Creative Loafing. "Charlie would only sleep when he was in the car."
Each morning, Ramage interrupted her commute to drop off her son at a day care. But on that hot summer day seventeen years ago "I drove right past his day care. i drove to my office," said said.
"I started to get out. And i reached for my attache case. And when i pulled it aside to get out of the car, I see Charlie's bottle bag," she said, referring to the bag that carried the child's baby bottles.
"That bottle bag reminded me that I had not dropped him off at the day care. And i remember standing there gasping, saying 'oh my God,' and I started to cry. Because it hit me what had almost happened."
The child was asleep in his car seat. Ramage composed herself and drove him back to the day care, five miles away.
Ramage says she's convinced it happens much more often than most parents are willing to admit. Psychologist Lydia Odenat agrees.
"Actually it's very easy to forget a child in the back seat of your car," said Dr. Odenat, of Emory University. "Especially in these days when people are overwhelmed and stressed and in a rush and on autopilot, especially in the mornings when they're in the process of taking children to and from school." Dr. Odenat says it has happened to her.
Following her incident, Ramage says she began wrapping the strap of her son's bottle bag around her wrist when she drove him to day care. "Every summer when i see those stories, i just thank God that my son is alive and well and that I happened to see his bottle bag."
Ramage says she would like to see car seat or auto manufacturers produce an alarm system for car seats that are still holding children after the car's engine has shut down.