Whose fault is it?
The Guardian had thorough coverage immediately after the bodies were discovered, ironically better than I saw in American newspapers.
Soon after, the father of the oldest boy blamed the Division of Family and Welfare Services and announced he might sue. On just what grounds? He claimed that he had told the DFWS that his son, who was mentally retarded, would often wander away from home. "If he had been put in a safe place, maybe this would have never happened." It's the government's fault that the family didn't take steps to watch the boy themselves? Since when is government supposed to be a babysitter on beck-and-call?
Soon after, one of the families said they want to sue the police department (for not searching the trunk), and perhaps Toyota. Why Toyota? They won't admit it, but it's solely because Toyota has deep pockets, nothing more. The trunk closed easily not because the hydraulic mechanism that keeps the lid open was faulty, but because it was broken. The car was old, so how is that Toyota's fault? It was the family's fault for not maintaining the car in good repair, let alone keeping such a deathtrap around.
Their threat to sue Toyota reminds me of a case back in 1997. A young boy was in the back of his parents' minivan, not wearing his seat belt, while his parents drove through an intersection. Another car was traveling only 5 to 10 mph and somehow hit them with enough force that the boy was ejected out the rear window and died. Who do you think the family (successfully) sued? Chrysler, for making a supposedly faulty latch for the rear window. Just like the Camden tragedy, the parents refused to take responsibility for their child, and the target of their lawsuit isn't the person whose negligence actually caused the death. Deep pockets.
The family says that they asked the police if they had checked the car. Why didn't the family check it themselves? The police said the car was clear, but were it my child, I'd have wanted to double-check it, particularly knowing my child was known to play in it. One of the fathers said, "Maybe they should have looked in the trunk," but maybe he should have looked in there himself? At no time were the parents restrained from performing their own search, including during the three hours they waited before calling the police.
Now the autopsy results have come back. The boys may have been alive for 13 to possibly 33 hours before they finally suffocated. The families will certainly use this to sue, claiming that the police were negligent and should have found the boys alive. I read somewhere (but can't find it at the moment) that the two officers who checked the car have already received disciplinary action, but with no details provided.
From the beginning I had every sympathy for the families, maintaining that no one is to blame. It's another of those terrible, terrible things over which we should grieve, not point fingers. However, while I still mourn those boys, I'm disgusted by the families trying to turn this into a cash cow. Since they wish to place blame, it's time they accepted that their own mistakes directly led to the boys' deaths. They should have been careful in either of two ways (not leaving the car there and not leaving the boys unattended), and then it wouldn't have mattered that the police didn't think to check the trunk of a beaten-up, non-working car.