FEW can even remotely relate to the trauma experienced by Noah Zunde’s family after the 22-month-old was found lifeless in his family car.
To say it was harrowing for all involved when it was discovered the little boy had been left in his car seat from the time his sister was dropped to school, seems inadequate.
But many can relate to the circumstances that led to that fateful drive home for Noah’s mother, Romy. Many can relate to the fatigue that comes not only with raising small children, but a week of family illness, washing bed linen, cleaning, comforting, suffering your own bout of gastro and added other pressures such as the death of family pets. To say those periods in a person’s life are exhausting also seems inadequate. One can barely function.
Many know what it feels like to go into ‘autopilot’ to get through the day. Many know how easy it is to turn left instead of right, or to drive to work, only to have the children telling you from the back seat you missed the turn to school.
Little Noah wasn’t of an age he could do that. And he had been up all night. The toddler had more than likely fallen asleep, as little people do when they are snug in their car seats and exhausted. He was quiet in the back seat, and his mum was barely functioning. Many can relate to those days.
As coroner Sara Hinchey stated in handing down her report, Noah’s death was a tragic accident that “could happen to anyone”.
“I accept Romy’s evidence that she did not deliberately leave Noah in the vehicle on the day he died,” she wrote. “I convey my sincerest sympathy to Noah’s family and loved ones.” In offering her condolences to Noah’s family, Judge Hinchey made recommendations in the hope no other family should ever experience the same pain.
Judge Hinchey also acknowledged the “difficult role’’ of the first responders to the incident. “In particular, I commend the actions of sergeant Mark Bell, who spent approximately six hours with Romy and Noah’s body prior to the homicide squad attending and professionally demonstrated extraordinary empathy during this time, while still discharging his duties as a police officer,’’ she said.
If you could find any positives out of the horror of that day, perhaps one is that it may help some understand just how difficult the role of the emergency services can be.
Nicole Ferrie, editor