A Hot Car Isn’t an Appropriate Punishment, and Why Toddlers Shouldn’t Play with Real Guns

Let’s talk about some things kids shouldn’t be subjected to, shall we? Namely, hot cars and guns. For obvious reasons, kids shouldn’t mess with either, and in today’s post, I’m going to address why.

Jesica Lee Brown. Nice gaping ear-holes.
(Source: Salt Lake County Jail)

I’ll start with 28-year-old Jesica Lee Brown, colorfully described by the New York Post as “a drugged-out Utah mom.” On the evening of July 8, 2019, Jesica was arrested in Draper, Utah after a concerned citizen called 911 to report a young child locked inside a car on that sweltering 82 degree evening. Police responded to do a welfare check on the young boy, who was sitting inside a car with the windows rolled up and the engine turned off. Better yet, he was sitting within reach of his mother’s used heroin needle. Parenting for the win!

Upon rescuing the boy from the car, one officer felt his forehead, which was hot to the touch, and also noted the boy’s eyes were puffy and he was sweating. Poor little smoosh. It hurts my heart to think about how terrified and uncomfortable he must have been.

This could have turned out much worse than it did.
(Source: Shutterstock)

According to the statement of probable cause, the officers located the boy’s mother, Jesica Brown, who admitted she had stuck her child inside the car as punishment for “acting out.” She also shared with police that she had used methamphetamine and heroin, and police found proof in the form of various drug paraphernalia in the car, including the used needle inside a purse.

Meth-Addled Moron Mommy was arrested and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on felony charges of child abuse and child endangerment. She was subsequently released; the boy was handed over to relatives.

This story has seriously pissed me off, because this woman has no idea how grave the consequences of her actions could have been. Ever since my kids were babies, I’ve been a strong proponent of awareness of the dangers of hot cars and vehicles in general. The nonprofit public safety awareness organization Kids and Cars has been devoted for years to “eliminating vehicle-related risks that were previously unrecognized through data collection, research and analysis, public education and awareness programs, policy change, product redesign and supporting families to channel their grief into positive change.” Their list of vehicle-related dangers include:

  • Frontovers
  • Backovers
  • Hot car deaths
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Carjacking with children or pets inside
  • Falls
  • Accidentally putting cars into gear
  • Drownings inside a vehicle
  • Underage drivers
  • Power window strangulation
  • Trunk entrapment

As far as hot car deaths specifically, the number of child deaths due to vehicular heatstroke every year is staggering. According to Kids and Cars, the average number of hot car deaths per year in the United States is 38, which means a child dies in a hot car in this country approximately once every nine days. In 2018, we reached a record high in the US; 52 children met their excruciating, gruesome end in hot cars last year.

Sweet angel Cooper Mills Harris.
(Source: ABC News)

In at least one egregious instance, a terrible parent has even used a hot car as a murder weapon; in 2014, soulless fat-headed demon Justin Ross Harris left his 22-month-old son, Cooper, strapped into his car seat in the back of the family’s SUV while he went to work (and spent part of the day sending pictures of his genitals to underage girls, natch). Ross was convicted of malice murder in 2016 and sentenced to life in prison without parole. I may do an entire post about Cooper some day if I can ever bring myself to revisit the case without my head exploding.

Kids and Cars has released a highly informative Fact Sheet, which states that hot car deaths occur due to a number of factors. These include the greenhouse effect causing the inside of a vehicle to heat up very quickly (the temperature inside a parked car can increase at upwards of forty-plus degrees an hour), the fact that a child’s body overheats three to five times faster than an adult body, and the fact that forgetting a child in a vehicle can literally happen to anyone. If you have any illusions that you’re immune from this potential mental hiccup, Gene Weingarten’s thorough, informative, heart-wrenching piece published in the Washington Post in 2009, entitled Fatal Distraction: Forgetting a Child in the Backseat of a Car is a Horrifying Mistake. Is it a Crime?, will undoubtedly change your mind. The phenomenon of forgetting a child in a hot car has affected, according to the article, people who work as dentists, postal clerks, social workers, police officers, accountants, soldiers, paralegals, electricians, clergymen, rabbinical students, nurses, construction workers, school principals, counselors, college professors, pizza chefs, pediatricians, and even a rocket scientist.

Allow me to reiterate: you are not immune. Please, if you have children of your own or provide care for children, it is essential that you educate yourself on the dangers of vehicles to our vulnerable little ones, especially hot car deaths. I highly recommend Weingarten’s article, which I’ve read innumerable times over the years and never fails to raise goosebumps on my arms and tears in my eyes. Our brains are highly fallible. If you’re capable of forgetting to pick up milk on the way home, missing your turn, or accidentally leaving your cell phone behind, you’re capable of forgetting a child in the car, no matter how good your intentions or how excellent a caregiver you are.

A helpful graphic illustrating the greenhouse effect inside a parked vehicle.
(Source: Rebel Circus)

In case you’re not convinced that Jesica Brown is either an evil sadist or dumb as a box of rocks (or both), let’s talk about what happens to a small child enclosed in a hot car, shall we? Excess heat causes a small child’s body temperature to rise several times faster than an adult’s, because her little body isn’t yet efficient at fielding excess heat. As the child’s temperature rises, she becomes agitated and may try to remove her clothing to cool off; however, if she’s strapped into a car seat, this kind of movement is impossible, leading to further agitation. The child becomes dizzy, nauseous, sweaty, thirsty, and confused. As neurological dysfunction kicks in, the body stops sweating, and the skin becomes hot and red. Dehydration causes electrolyte imbalances, and toxic levels of sodium begin accumulating in the child’s body. Cardiac arrhythmia and other irregularities begin, and her body is no longer able to regulate her blood pressure. The child’s skin becomes discolored, and there may be skin slippage, meaning blisters form beneath the skin as the tissue beneath begins to go through autolysis, otherwise known as self-digestion.

(Source: helpandhope.org)

Bear in mind, this is all happening while the child is still alive.

This Marilyn Manson quote pretty much sums it up for me.
(Source Pinterest)

The child begins having seizures and hallucinations, experiencing delirium and a rapid heart rate, and, God willing, she may slip into a coma. When enough cell damage has occurred, the child’s organ systems will shut down in rapid succession. Hemorrhages take place in the lungs and other organs, the brain swells, and fluid forms around the brain (also known as cerebral edema). The child eventually dies in agony as her body temperature climbs over 108 degrees and her organs experience autolysis and necrosis (tissue death).

Horrified yet? Today’s candidate for Mother of the Year, Jesica Brown, willingly subjected her son to the possibility of this unimaginably excruciating death because he “acted out.” Any questions?

Moving on while I quell the urge to hunt this slag down online and personally tear her a proverbial new one.

Kayden John Stuber.
(Source: Thomas McAfee Funeral Home)

And now onto the case of Kayden John Stuber, which could be subtitled Lock Up Your Fucking Gun, Grandma. Two-year-old Kayden was born on January 11, 2017. He lived with his parents, Tala Gunter and Ryan Stuber, and his grandparents, Tim and Bekki Gunter, at his grandparents’ home on Dronfield Drive in Greenville, South Carolina. Bekki had quit her job to help raise Kayden so her daughter, Tala, could work outside the home.

Grandfather Tim Gunter told the Greenville News, “The first thing you’d hear when you wake up, you’d hear him pitter-patter right in my room, ‘Grandma? Papa?’ [Bekki] would have him in the morning until he went to bed, basically.”

It sounds like Kayden was loved and generally well cared for, but a few seconds of inattention and some really bad decisions removed him from his family’s life forever. On Thursday, June 20, 2019, Kayden and his Grandma Bekki returned home after running some errands. Bekki put her purse on her bed and went into the bathroom, leaving Kayden unattended. In short order, little Kayden figured out how to unzip Bekki’s purse, pulled out her gun — a teal-colored Glock, which clearly resembled a toy — and pulled the trigger, accidentally shooting himself in his sweet little face.

Police on the scene at the Gunter home after Kayden’s shooting.
(Source: Greenville News)
Kayden Stuber.
(Source: Crime Online)

Family members attempted to stop the bleeding, and Sheriff’s deputies tried to revive Kayden before EMS arrived, but he died at just before 2:00 pm en route to the Pediatric Emergency Department of Prisma Health Systems.

The coroner’s office deemed Kayden’s death accidental. Greenville County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lieutenant Ryan Flood told People, “The investigation is ongoing and no further information is available at this time.” No charges have been filed in the case.

“Kayden was my life,” Bekki Gunter told the Greenville News. “He was my baby.”

Kayden as a baby surrounded by his family.
(Source: Facebook)

Tim Gunter has spoken out various times about the incident. “He was an awesome, awesome child,” he told the Greenville News. “That kid was so loved it’s not even funny. He was everybody’s world.”

This is the Tiffany Glock. Go ahead; try to tell me this thing doesn’t look like a toy.
(Source: Gun Broker)

Regarding his purchase of the gun for his wife, Tim said, “The only thing I kind of regret in my life is that I got her a teal gun that looks like a toy. Probably the worst thing I could have ever done in my life, when I think about it.”

I agree one million percent. Handguns should never look like toys. They don’t need to be candy-colored or bedazzled; they aren’t fucking fashion accessories. They are literally designed to kill people. The last thing we should be doing is making them more attractive to children. It boggles my mind that this isn’t obvious to firearms manufacturers, not to mention consumers, especially ones with children in their homes. Duh.

Little Kayden and his mom, Tala Gunter.
(Source: Daily Mail)

Authorities have questioned the family and confiscated the gun. “Nobody understands the situation. We’re probably one of the safest families around as far as weapons,” Tim told the Greenville News the day after the shooting. He added that he and his wife are both concealed weapon permit holders and trained in firearms safety. “It was in her purse, zipped and sealed. You would never think he’d be smart enough, but he actually is.”

Are. You. Fucking. Serious. This right here is one of the main problems with America, folks. Idiots like this believe they’re responsible enough to own and carry loaded weapons, and our government apparently has no problem with that. I cannot tell you how angry this makes me.

Here’s a fun fact for you: the United States of America leads the entire world in gun-related deaths of children. Even more horrifying? According to a study published in December 2018 in the New England Journal of Medicine, death by gunshot was the second highest cause of death in the United States in 2016 among children and adolescents from ages 1 to 19. Behind motor vehicle crashes, which caused 20 percent of child deaths that year, firearm-related injuries were a close second, representing 15 percent of deaths. Globally, the rate of child gun deaths in the U.S. was 36.5 times higher than in twelve other high-income countries.

There’s no question: this is happening far too often.
(Source: Washington Post)

The study goes on to state that one in three U.S. homes with children under 18 has a firearm, and that 43 percent of those homes report that the firearm is kept unlocked and loaded. This study was far from the only one conducted; there have been countless studies done showing similar results. Holy shit, people. We have a major problem here.

Kayden Stuber.
(Source: Gun Memorial)

“People come to conclusions that ‘they’re just stupid people with guns lying around.’ That’s not what it is at all. It’s not fair people are judging and being such judging people. They know damn well we wouldn’t have let anything happen to the baby.” (Author’s note: Uh… sorry, what?) “My wife blames herself,” he continued. He said if the police return the gun that killed Kayden, he plans to destroy it, because it is “evil now.”

That’s right, Grandpa. Blame the weapon, not your total disregard for the inherent danger in keeping an unsecured, loaded handgun within a child’s reach. ‘Murica.

Sadly accurate.
(Source: Know Your Meme)

Tim plans to share the family’s story of tragedy and loss (and, if we’re being honest, stupidity) with businesses that teach gun safety so instructors can tell their classes as a warning.

Senior Deputy Coroner Kent Dill told the Greenville News, “This is kind of what we focus a lot of attention on, but certainly, we are so sorry for this family for what they’re having to deal with.”

Kayden snuggling the family dog.
(Source: Thomas McAfee Funeral Home)

I have a great deal of empathy for the family, and I can’t imagine the grief and pain they’re enduring now and will continue to endure for the foreseeable future, but it would be a lot easier to maintain that level of empathy if Tim “Excuse Machine” Gunter would stop attempting to defend the negligence of himself and his wife.

What a tragic waste of a young life. Instead of riding around on toy trucks, playing with the family dogs, watching Paw Patrol, or hanging out with his family as he grows up in front of their eyes, Kayden is dead, forever frozen at the age of two and a half, his life cut short before he could experience any of the usual childhood rites of passage… and all because his grandparents didn’t bother employing easily attainable, affordable safety measures to prevent a toddler from getting his hands on the deadly weapon that ended his life.

We need to do better than this, people. We need to be better than this.

If you can’t afford a measly $9, you have no business owning a handgun.
(Source: Amazon.com)

Sources: Fox13 Now, The New York Post, People, ABC News, KidsandCars.org, The Daily Mail, The Washington Post, Rebel Circus, Greenville News, Crime Online, Meaww, CNN, Amazon.com

3 comments

  1. I can’t believe Excuse Maker Grandpa was shocked that little Kayden could unzip Grandma’s purse. He obviously hasn’t been around a lot of toddlers, has he?

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