- Associated Press - Sunday, May 29, 2016

GRENADA, Miss. (AP) - A man charged with killing his 8-month-old daughter by leaving her in a hot car says the baby “was my everything.”

Tears flowed down 25-year-old Josh Blunt’s face as he talked about Shania Caradine, who died after he went to work, forgetting that she was in the car, The Clarion-Ledger (https://on.thec-l.com/1Ud3Nmj ) reported.

“When my baby looks at you and she just smiles, it don’t make a difference what type of day you had, it could be the worst day, but my daughter made my day like a bottle of sunshine,” he said. “She was my day, she was my day. When I was down, she kept me up.”

Blunt is charged with second-degree murder, though city prosecutor Jennifer Adams told a judge last week that Grenada officials want to reduce the charge to culpable negligence.

Second-degree murder can be punished by life in prison. The negligence charge carries up to a year.

A child safety group called KidsAndCars.org ranks Mississippi 16th nationwide in the number of children’s heatstroke deaths from being left in a vehicle.

People think of people who leave their children in a car as bad parents, but it’s something that can happen to anyone, director Amber Rollins told The Sun Herald (https://bit.ly/25ufPDj ).

“After working with families for 11 years, I can see this happens to the most wonderful, educated, loving, doting parents,” she said.

A 2-year-old died May 11 in Gluckstadt. Her mother went to pick her up at a daycare after work and realized she’d never dropped off the child, Rollins said.

She said parents should get in the habit of opening the back car door and checking every time they get in and out of the vehicle.

As a reminder, they can put something they’ll need, such as an employee badge, pocketbook, wallet or cell phone, in the back seat, she said.

“Even your left shoe,” Rollins said. “Nobody’s going in to work or a store with one shoe off. It’s a way to make sure you check the back seat.”

Parents of small children also can put a stuffed animal in the front seat.

“It serves as a visual reminder that your baby’s in the back,” Rollins said.

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