State Sen. Toni Boucher, the chief deputy minority leader of the state Senate, says she will take a hard look at strengthening the state penalties for leaving a child unattended in car. She also wants to include the elderly and pets in possible legislation. The Wilton Republican reacted in the wake of the death of a 15-month old child left unattended in a car this week in Ridgefield, a town she represents.
Boucher was noticeably startled by the news of the baby’s death. “It’s absolutely beyond tragic,” Boucher told The Hanging Shad when asked about the case. Details of the Ridgefield case have not been forthcoming from Ridgefield police.
Boucher, who explored a gubernatorial run earlier this year, said the Ridgefield case and others in the state and across the country have turned the nation’s attention to the problem. “It’s brought the issue to the forefront and I will certainly be looking at it in the next session should I be fortunate enough to be reelected.”
Boucher said current state law classifies as a Class A misdemeanor leaving a child under 12 years old unattended in a vehicle such that harm could come to the child. “We need to take a good, hard look at that,” says Boucher who will bring the issue to the transportation committee of which she is ranking member. Any such legislation would also likely have to go through the public safety and judiciary committees.
“I think any legislation should give some latitude to the judicial system [because every case is different],” Boucher said.
The legislation Boucher could possibly put forward wouldn’t be limited to children. “We need to think about our elderly as well. They need protection.” She added that a separate, new law should punish those who dangerously leave pets in vehicles unattended.
Tragic deaths such as the Ridgefield case have implications beyond the actual tragedy. “Eighty percent of marriages who suffer through the loss of a child whether it be through illness, suicide or accidental death break up,” Boucher said.