Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Warning:  This is an upsetting post.

Since Saturday evening the story of Elena, the Italian toddler who died because she was accidentally left in a car in the hot sun,  has gone around the world but for those of you who missed it, I will summarise it here:

On Wednesday morning Lucio Petrizzi, a veterinary surgeon and university lecturer from Teramo [Abruzzo], left home for work with his 22-month-old daughter, Elena, strapped into the back of his car.  He intended to drop her off at her nursery, as he does on every working morning.  However, Mr Petrizzi's mind was elsewhere and he drove straight to work, forgetting that Elena was still in the car.  He entered the university, sure that he had taken the child to nursery and so she remained in the car for five hours.  Tragically when Mr Petrizzi returned to the car briefly at around 11 am he did not register his daughter's presence and his memory was not jogged later when his partner called him to confirm which of them would collect Elena from nursery.  Mr Petrizzi only realised the terrible truth when he returned to the car at 1pm, but by this time little Elena was hardly breathing.

The emergency services were called and doctors in Ancona fought to save Elena until Saturday evening, when she was declared dead.  She had suffered a massive cerebral oedema.

Mr Petrizzi is said to be still in shock and his partner, Chiara Schirrini, who is eight months pregnant, has appeared on television to ask for understanding for him.  She said that in this day and age we all live such stressful lives that this kind of tragedy could have happened to any parent.   She added that Mr Petrizzi had been a wonderful father to Elena and that the two had adored each other.

Mr Petrizzi has been charged with manslaughter.

The only ray of hope in this story is that, in the midst of their own distress, Lucio Petrizzi and Chiara Schirrini thought of others, giving doctors permission to take Elena's organs for transplant:  her heart, liver and kidneys have been donated respectively to three children in other parts of Italy and the recipients are said to be doing well.  I pray that this knowledge brings the couple some comfort in the days and weeks to come.


Elisa N Viajes said...

Oh Pat, what a sad story. I didn´t know

Betty said...

Sadly, that happens more often than you would think. I've lost track over the years how often it's happened in the Houston area during the hot summer months. They say it's usually when the normal routine is changed and maybe the other parent is supposed to drop the child off at day care on that particular day. I've heard them say that the parent should leave their briefcase or purse next to the car seat so when they go to get it they see the child. I feel so sorry for those parents...especially the father being charged. It was an accident and he'll have to live with it for the rest of his life.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Unfortunately this same story occurs every summer somewhere...I know it has happened in the USA. It's very sad. Parents can be sleep deprived and overwhelmed by work and other problems and then accidents like this happen. I hope that this father will have the charges reduced. So sad.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Elisa. Yes, so sad. I was crying while I wrote it. Hi, Betty. I didn't know this was so common. Yes, a terrible thing for him to have to live with. Hi, Pat. In Italy the penalty for manslaughter is likely to nbe less than if he ewas charged with abandoning a minor, which was considered. My heart goes out to him.

Liz Hinds said...

He forgot she was there?!!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

It seems so, Liz.


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