Daughter’s death in a locked van still haunts mom

For April McAlister, the tears came a day earlier than expected.

Friday marks the third anniversary of her daughter Jazmin Green’s agonizing death. The 2-year-old was left in a day care van for more than two hours on a 93-degree summer afternoon after enjoying pizza and games with her nursery mates inside a Jonesboro Chuck E. Cheese.

Wednesday’s news reports about the death of a toddler in Cobb, who was left inside a locked car for seven hours by his dad, only add to the sadness.

“I miss her every day. It’s hard, but you just got to keep going,” McAlister said. “But when I hear about something like this, all those bad memories come flowing back. I’ve shed a few tears.”

Two women were charged and convicted in Jazmin’s death.

Marlo Fallings and her daughter, Qantabia Hopkins, who operated Marlo’s Magnificent Early Learning Center, just began serving their jail sentences after being found guilty in April of reckless conduct and involuntary manslaughter.

They had left a 16-year-old girl in charge of keeping track of the children, and the high school student said she did not see Jazmin, strapped into the same child seat where she died, when she checked the van after the trip.

Justin Ross Harris’ son was just a few months younger than Jazmin when he died Wednesday after spending seven hours trapped inside the family’s SUV. Harris has been charged with murder.

McAlister said she feels for Harris but said she simply cannot understand how a parent could forget his or her child inside a locked vehicle.

The Cobb toddler is believed to be the 14th child in the country to die from heatstroke inside a vehicle this year. The day before, a 9-month-old Florida girl died after being left inside her father’s pickup truck.

Now McAlister wonders whether a bill named in her daughter’s memory goes far enough. The Jazmin Green Act requires day care centers to install safety alarms in vehicles that would go off if any children were left inside.

“Maybe we need them in every car,” Jazmin’s mother said. “We can’t let this happen anymore.”