“A good deed never goes unpunished.”
Unfortunately, this very cynical adage seems to apply in a recent, appalling situation in Colorado.
Shannon Dominguez and her boyfriend, Alan Mason, were sitting in their car in the parking lot of a Dollar Tree when they noticed a four-year-old child sitting in a car alone. The windows were rolled up, and the sun was beating down on the car. It was a hot day.
Perhaps remembering news on the recent rash of deaths of children left in hot cars, the couple decided to call 911.
The mother of the child, Kristina Riddell, came out of the store to overhear Dominguez on the phone with police. She then became enraged, threatening the couple.
What happened next is simply awful.
Riddell got in her car and floored it toward the couple, hitting both Dominguez and Mason. Dominguez suffered multiple breaks and is now confined to a wheelchair. She may never walk normally again. Mason suffered internal and external bruising.
Riddell then drove away, though she has been apprehended and is facing charges of hit-and-run and child abuse.
We’re shocked and saddened for the Colorado couple, who were just trying to look out for the welfare of a child in danger. The couple did the right thing by calling police, and though their actions resulted in tragedy, Dominguez said she would do the same thing again: “If it means helping a child, I would do it in a heartbeat.”
Children should never be left in the car alone—especially on a hot day. Children’s bodies do not regulate their temperature as well as adults, and they can quickly succumb to the heat of a car. (Even on cool days, children should not be left in or around vehicles: consider the recent case of a toddler who managed to climb inside the family car with the keys, knocking it out of gear. The car rolled down the street and crashed into a neighbor’s house. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the outcome could have been much worse.)
We hope that Riddell receives appropriate punishment for her terrible accidents and that the Colorado couple receives justice.
One way they may seek justice is through a personal injury claim, which would seek compensation for their medical bills and other expenses caused by their injuries. Because of the severity of Riddell’s actions, the claim could possibly award them punitive damages, which are damages that are meant to punish the wrongdoer. Punitive damages are awarded when the wrongdoer’s conduct was particularly egregious.