Child left behind in car now a common occurrence

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The most recent case involves a 6-month-old baby left in a car in the parking lot of University of Guam last Friday by her mother, Elizabeth Liendhart Taisacan, which she said was unintentional.

A quick run into the store, a child left in a car, and even parents forgetting their child in the car…these are all incidents that have played out in Guam’s hot island heat. And while some go unnoticed, others have garnered the attention of the public.

Intentional or not it happens more often than publicized. Raising the question how has the government responded to incidents of children left in cars alone?

The most recent case involves a 6-month-old baby left in a car in the parking lot of University of Guam last Friday by her mother, Elizabeth Liendhart Taisacan, which she said was unintentional. She spent two days in detention before she was released and has yet to be charged. The government, however, has stated that the case is still active.

In 2017, a South Korean couple, one a lawyer and the other a judge, deliberately left their 6-year-old in a car at the Kmart parking lot while they went shopping, telling police that they were only gone for three minutes. However, court documents state that 45 minutes had passed after the children were found before the couple emerged from the store. The parents pleaded guilty and were let off the hook with paying a fine of $500 each in addition to court fees, closing the case.

While the children in both these case were unharmed, there have been other cases where tragedy befell the child.

In August 2014, 3- month-old Tyler Cruz died after he was forgotten in the family car for two hours. He had suffered burns from the scorching heat and his cause of death was asphyxiation. His parents, Victoria Siatong and Shawn Cruz, took plea deals for child abuse, and completed conditions of a deferred plea for negligent homicide and leaving a child unattended in a mother vehicle. Both did not serve any jail time.

In April 2013, Senior Probation Officer Anthony Morcilla forgot his 2-year-old daughter for seven hours in a hot truck parked at the Judiciary of Guam before he remembered she was there. The child died as a result. A jury of 12 found him not guilty of negligent homicide, leaving a child unattended in a motor vehicle and child abuse.

In response to this incident, the Office of the Attorney General responded that “justice did not fall on deaf ears.” Former AG Lenny Rapadas continued on to say, “the law applies to good people as well as the bad. Justice sometimes means doing what is right and not what is popular.”

While each case resulted in no jail time, judgment comes in different forms. This raises the question is it possible to forget your child?

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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.