Monday, April 19, 2010

Child locks self in car; child fine, mother traumatized

A neighbor kindly invited us on Friday to her beach house on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It's about an hour and 15 minutes away, not convenient, but she thought her kids and mine would have a great day frolicking on the private beach. We decided to caravan since they'd be spending the night. The first hour was great -- no traffic, beautiful warm weather. We stopped in Dunkirk, Maryland, so I could fill up with gas. Andy wanted to get out to help. In my minivan, the gas thing is on the right so I can't have Meg's side door open while I pump gas. She wanted to get out too, so I offered her my keys to appease her while I got the gas. I thought twice about giving her my keys and then left the driver's side door open, just in case. You see where this is going, right? Naturally the wind blew my door shut and when I turned around, Meg had locked the doors and promptly thrown the keys on the floor of the car.

Fortunately, my friend was with me so we put Andy in her car with her girls to watch a DVD while we tried to figure out how we could coax Meg into opening the door. Of course, she was still in her car seat and couldn't get out. A man at the pump next to us said to call the police and they'd come help. Sure enough, I dialed 911 and the local sheriff came with tools. Within minutes of the call, a sheriff was wedging the door opening to try to open a door lock, press the unlock button and/or slide the door lock up. I was so calm at first. It was all going to be okay! Sure, I'm an idiot, but help is here! It's going to be fine! But then it was 10 minutes, then 20 minutes, then 30 minutes and nothing seemed to get it open. Meg was doing fine those. She could reach Andy's pretzel sticks and was snacking away. She was loving the attention, but she was growing weary, too. At about the 35-40 minute mark, her cheeks started to get rosy and I tried not to panic that she was going to suffocate (she wasn't). Then she started to cry and then cry harder.

I asked the officer what to do, call a locksmith? No, they'd do what he was doing and charge $100 bucks. Call Honda? Not one in Calvert County. Call my husband? He's too far away and would have go home to get the keys -- would she be calm for another 1 1/2 hours? Call a neighbor? It's still another hour. By the time Meg started crying in earnest, I asked the officer about breaking the window. He was kind and said he didn't want to scare her, besides, he'd only had one before he wasn't able to unlock. She was starting to get worked up so I was ready. I called Bjorn for the reassurance it was the right thing. The officer broke the passenger window sending tiny glass pellets everywhere. That really scared her, Meg bawled harder but I was so close! I was able to go in and grab her and console her while my friend and the officer triaged the glass. I think it took Meg about three minutes to calm down. I, however, was on edge about it the rest of the weekend.

Epilogue: Bjorn got a new window for me on Saturday, $259 with tax. Worth it.


  1. So scary! I would have broken the window, too. I am so glad that she is fine. She will probably have no memory of the event and you will speak of it for years. Alas! At least you got a great blog post out of it.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  2. AW, poor baby. And poor Meg, too. Very traumatic.

  3. I'm glad you got her out! The poor baby.

  4. I'm glad it all turned out okay!! And I agree, that $259 was WAY worth breaking the window for just to get Meg safe!!

    OH, and speaking from experience, you will NOT do it again!!! My keys are now ALWAYS in my possession when I get out of the Toyota!!! :-)