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Hearing about how the brain works, and how good, intelligent people can be distracted is all well and good, Mr. Costello said. “But some days, it just gnaws at me. And it’s going to gnaw at this [Loudoun County] father just as much, and that’s probably why he is in the hospital.

“Internally, he is angry. He feels guilty. He doesn’t have any answers,” Mr. Costello said, his voice choking up.

Next Sunday: More on recovery and how to prevent hot-vehicle deaths.

Cheryl Wetzstein’s column appears on Tuesdays and Sundays. She can be reached at cwetzstein@