Mom says she 'lives in hell every day' after accidentally leaving son to die in sweltering car

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By Kim Novak

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A mother has opened up about her grief after her son died when she forgot him in a hot car.

Raelyn Balfour, now 52, had only realized she had forgotten to drop her nine-month-old son Bryce to his child minder after receiving a call from her asking how he was recovering from his cold, assuming that was why he hadn't been dropped off to her.

As the carer asked how he was, Raelyn responded: "What do you mean? Bryce is with you," before running out to her car in a panic as she tried to remember what she'd done that morning.

Tragically, when she arrived at the vehicle, she saw that Bryce was in his car seat, unresponsive.

GettyImages-AA010802 (1).jpgHer nine-month-old was accidentally left in the back of her car while she went to work. Credit: Ryan McVay/Getty Images

She told Fabulous magazine: "I got to the car and my nine-month-old son was still strapped into his car seat.

"He had been there all day. He wasn't moving or breathing. I was hysterical. I screamed for help and for an ambulance."

She immediately started to administer CPR until the ambulance arrived and rushed Bryce to hospital, all the while Raelyn was "wracked with hysteria, it felt like I was living in a nightmare.”

Tragically, despite medics fighting to revive Bryce, he was declared dead shortly after arriving at the hospital.

The incident happened in March 2007 when Raelyn was 36, and the family was living in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Raelyn had driven to work but forgotten to drop Bryce off at the babysitter's home as she usually did each morning.

Bryce had been in the car for seven and a half hours when Raelyn found him, and despite it being just a mild 64 degrees Fahrenheit outdoors, it was ruled that he'd died from hyperthermia inside the car.


Police said that temperatures inside the vehicle could have reached 98 degrees in just 40 minutes of her leaving the car, which is enough to kill a baby inside.

Raelyn, who now lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband Jarrett, 45, and their four children, Christopher, 31, Braiden, 16, Isabella, 15, and Chase, 14, revealed that the guilt of what happened eats at her every day.

She revealed that she still has the "memory of seeing my son not breathing every day," even though it has been 17 years since Bryce died.

"No parent should have to deal with that. No one should have to try to save their child's life from their own terrible mistake," she added.

"I live in hell every day. I live in pain everyday remembering the horror of what happened - the grief and the loss and the knowledge of what I had forgotten. 

"It’s a nightmare you never escape from."

She added that as well as having to live with her own guilt, she also faced cruel judgment from strangers who did not "believe" it was an accident.

Raelyn, who formerly served in the military, was arrested and charged with second degree murder on the day of Bryce's funeral, and faced a potential life sentence of 40 years.

She revealed that she was not even able to grieve for her baby son properly as she was forced to "prove I hadn’t killed him" instead.

GettyImages-182502864.jpgThe car seat had been moved out of Raelyn's line of vision, combined with sleep deprivation and a different stop on her way to work made her forget she hadn't dropped Bryce off. (stock image) Credit: jenjen42/Getty Images

Raelyn also faced judgment from people assuming she was a "bad mother" or had "abused" the baby, but her legal team had argued she'd suffered a "false memory" on the morning of Bryce's death as she "distinctly remembered" having dropped him off at his child minder, despite it not having happened.

She explained: "I distinctly remember dropping off Bryce at the babysitter's before driving to work that day. 

"Then I worked all day confident in the knowledge he was safe with the childminder, I was utterly convinced he was there."

False memories can occur when someone remembers and event differently to how it happened, or appears to have a memory of something that never happened at all.

Experts testified that in Raelyn's case, dropping Bryce off in the morning was so routine that her brain had filled the gap in her memory that day, with Raelyn saying there were a few factors which threw off her routine that morning.

She cited being sleep deprived from being up all night with Bryce, who had been unwell with a cold, as well as the fact that her husband had fitted the new carseat behind the driver's seat in her car instead of where it usually was - behind the passenger's seat, which would have been in her eye-line.

She would also usually have had Bryce's diaper bag in the front seat, but had moved it to the back because she'd dropped Jarrett at work that morning, adding: "His nappy bag would have been a trigger for me if he was still in the car. It wasn’t there for me to see like normal."

Experts claimed that Raelyn's brain had interchanged the stop off she made to drop Jarrett to work - which was out of her ordinary routine - with dropping off Bryce.

The baby had also been asleep when she arrived at work, so she didn't hear him in the back of the car, and walked in to start her day as usual.


Raelyn was acquitted by a jury in January 2008, but she says being found innocent "didn't change anything" with regards to how she felt, admitting her "world had fallen apart".

She and her husband Jarrett supported one another through the tragedy and went on to have three more children together,

This year would have been Bryce's 18th birthday, which brought up renewed "grief and sadness" for his mother.

She revealed that she'd made him a promise as she held him for the last time in hospital after his death, that she would dedicate her life to raising awareness of car safety for children and babies in his memory.

Raelyn now campaigns with the charity Kids in Cars, which educates parents about the dangers of leaving children in cars even for short periods of time, as the temperatures inside can quickly reach fatal levels.

She added: "Babies like Bryce cannot regulate their body temperature like teenagers and adults can. A cool temperature is as life threatening as scorching summer sun.

"I paid the ultimate price and I will never have real peace again, I am begging people to be careful.

“The only time I will be able to make amends properly is when I see him in heaven."

Featured image credit: Ryan McVay/Getty Images

Mom says she 'lives in hell every day' after accidentally leaving son to die in sweltering car

vt-author-image

By Kim Novak

Article saved!Article saved!

A mother has opened up about her grief after her son died when she forgot him in a hot car.

Raelyn Balfour, now 52, had only realized she had forgotten to drop her nine-month-old son Bryce to his child minder after receiving a call from her asking how he was recovering from his cold, assuming that was why he hadn't been dropped off to her.

As the carer asked how he was, Raelyn responded: "What do you mean? Bryce is with you," before running out to her car in a panic as she tried to remember what she'd done that morning.

Tragically, when she arrived at the vehicle, she saw that Bryce was in his car seat, unresponsive.

GettyImages-AA010802 (1).jpgHer nine-month-old was accidentally left in the back of her car while she went to work. Credit: Ryan McVay/Getty Images

She told Fabulous magazine: "I got to the car and my nine-month-old son was still strapped into his car seat.

"He had been there all day. He wasn't moving or breathing. I was hysterical. I screamed for help and for an ambulance."

She immediately started to administer CPR until the ambulance arrived and rushed Bryce to hospital, all the while Raelyn was "wracked with hysteria, it felt like I was living in a nightmare.”

Tragically, despite medics fighting to revive Bryce, he was declared dead shortly after arriving at the hospital.

The incident happened in March 2007 when Raelyn was 36, and the family was living in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Raelyn had driven to work but forgotten to drop Bryce off at the babysitter's home as she usually did each morning.

Bryce had been in the car for seven and a half hours when Raelyn found him, and despite it being just a mild 64 degrees Fahrenheit outdoors, it was ruled that he'd died from hyperthermia inside the car.


Police said that temperatures inside the vehicle could have reached 98 degrees in just 40 minutes of her leaving the car, which is enough to kill a baby inside.

Raelyn, who now lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband Jarrett, 45, and their four children, Christopher, 31, Braiden, 16, Isabella, 15, and Chase, 14, revealed that the guilt of what happened eats at her every day.

She revealed that she still has the "memory of seeing my son not breathing every day," even though it has been 17 years since Bryce died.

"No parent should have to deal with that. No one should have to try to save their child's life from their own terrible mistake," she added.

"I live in hell every day. I live in pain everyday remembering the horror of what happened - the grief and the loss and the knowledge of what I had forgotten. 

"It’s a nightmare you never escape from."

She added that as well as having to live with her own guilt, she also faced cruel judgment from strangers who did not "believe" it was an accident.

Raelyn, who formerly served in the military, was arrested and charged with second degree murder on the day of Bryce's funeral, and faced a potential life sentence of 40 years.

She revealed that she was not even able to grieve for her baby son properly as she was forced to "prove I hadn’t killed him" instead.

GettyImages-182502864.jpgThe car seat had been moved out of Raelyn's line of vision, combined with sleep deprivation and a different stop on her way to work made her forget she hadn't dropped Bryce off. (stock image) Credit: jenjen42/Getty Images

Raelyn also faced judgment from people assuming she was a "bad mother" or had "abused" the baby, but her legal team had argued she'd suffered a "false memory" on the morning of Bryce's death as she "distinctly remembered" having dropped him off at his child minder, despite it not having happened.

She explained: "I distinctly remember dropping off Bryce at the babysitter's before driving to work that day. 

"Then I worked all day confident in the knowledge he was safe with the childminder, I was utterly convinced he was there."

False memories can occur when someone remembers and event differently to how it happened, or appears to have a memory of something that never happened at all.

Experts testified that in Raelyn's case, dropping Bryce off in the morning was so routine that her brain had filled the gap in her memory that day, with Raelyn saying there were a few factors which threw off her routine that morning.

She cited being sleep deprived from being up all night with Bryce, who had been unwell with a cold, as well as the fact that her husband had fitted the new carseat behind the driver's seat in her car instead of where it usually was - behind the passenger's seat, which would have been in her eye-line.

She would also usually have had Bryce's diaper bag in the front seat, but had moved it to the back because she'd dropped Jarrett at work that morning, adding: "His nappy bag would have been a trigger for me if he was still in the car. It wasn’t there for me to see like normal."

Experts claimed that Raelyn's brain had interchanged the stop off she made to drop Jarrett to work - which was out of her ordinary routine - with dropping off Bryce.

The baby had also been asleep when she arrived at work, so she didn't hear him in the back of the car, and walked in to start her day as usual.


Raelyn was acquitted by a jury in January 2008, but she says being found innocent "didn't change anything" with regards to how she felt, admitting her "world had fallen apart".

She and her husband Jarrett supported one another through the tragedy and went on to have three more children together,

This year would have been Bryce's 18th birthday, which brought up renewed "grief and sadness" for his mother.

She revealed that she'd made him a promise as she held him for the last time in hospital after his death, that she would dedicate her life to raising awareness of car safety for children and babies in his memory.

Raelyn now campaigns with the charity Kids in Cars, which educates parents about the dangers of leaving children in cars even for short periods of time, as the temperatures inside can quickly reach fatal levels.

She added: "Babies like Bryce cannot regulate their body temperature like teenagers and adults can. A cool temperature is as life threatening as scorching summer sun.

"I paid the ultimate price and I will never have real peace again, I am begging people to be careful.

“The only time I will be able to make amends properly is when I see him in heaven."

Featured image credit: Ryan McVay/Getty Images