Philly 2-Year-Old Forgotten in Hot Van Dies


day-careLarry King and Matthew Spolar of the Philadelphia Inquirer report:
Their arrangement was neither a daily routine nor out of the ordinary. As frequently as three mornings a week, Rimma Shvartsman of Feasterville would pick up Daniel Slutsky, 2, who lived two doors away, and drive him to the Penndel day-care center where she worked and Daniel attended. Wednesday, authorities say, that practice ended in an extraordinary tragedy. After parking her van outside the Fairy Tales Day Care Center on Highland Avenue, Shvartsman, 46, left the toddler behind in the back seat on a day when temperatures would climb into the 80s.More than six hours later, she found the boy unresponsive in his car seat, carried him inside and called 911. Daniel was rushed by ambulance to St. Mary Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 5:17 p.m.

An autopsy confirmed that the boy, whose thick shock of dark hair made him look older, had died of hyperthermia.

Thursday, the neighbors’ cul-de-sac of tidy townhouses was a portrait of sorrow. Shvartsman’s residence was dark and silent, while a stream of mourners came and went at the Slutskys’ home, where the family was sitting shiva.

Bucks County District Attorney Michelle Henry called the toddler’s death “a horrible tragedy,” but had not determined whether charges against Shvartsman were warranted.

“This is just a nightmare no parent should have to experience,” said county coroner Joseph Campbell, whose office ruled the death accidental.

Daniel’s funeral and burial were Thursday..

Shvartsman was described by Henry as a co-owner of the day-care center, which state records show was established in 1993. She had picked up the child around 9 a.m., and had arrived at the day care by 9:30 or 10 a.m., Henry said.

Shvartsman returned to the van at 4:45 p.m. “She has indicated that she forgot the child was in the car at the time,” Henry said.

Neighbor Irina Alpert stood red-eyed outside her home, which separates the Slutsky and Shvartsman dwellings.

Through Alpert, the Slutskys declined to comment in person, but asked that “people take extra care with their children,” Alpert said. “They hope that this example might help save the lives of other children.”

Michael Mustakoff, an attorney representing the day care and Shvartsman, released a statement expressing sorrow over “the death of this beautiful boy.” He said the center was cooperating fully with criminal investigators and state regulatory officials.

“This is a tragic accident and of course, if there was any way that Rimma could revisit yesterday’s events and undo them, she would do so in an instant,” Mustakoff said. “Our great sadness and prayers go out to the Slutsky family in this terrible time of loss.”

Mustakoff said Shvartsman drove Daniel to the day-care center frequently, but not on a set schedule. He declined to comment about what might have caused Shvartsman’s lapse.

The phenomenon is not as rare as some might think. The Washington Post reported this year that 15 to 25 children die across the country each year after a parent or caretaker forgets a child is in the back of a car.

{Philadelphia Inquirer/Noam Newscenter}


  1. We are neighbors to Fairy Tales Day Care.
    When we step outside our front door, we see your building; since, we are diagonally across the street. We just want the Family of Daniel Slutksy, Rimma Shvartsman, the staff, and all the children and parents of Fairy Tales to know that our thoughts and prayers are with you as you deal with the unimaginable grief and pain of this incredible tragedy. These words are so inadequate, that I fear they may offend you. Yet, I want you to know that we care, and I ask God to comfort you.

  2. Just wanted to let you know that we at CSO Radio have developed a device that can save lives as it will automatically remind the driver any time a child is placed in the backseat. It is called the Backseat Minder and is installed professionally much like a car alarm. For more information please visit our website or call CSO Radio at 732.942.1101

  3. 10 months! 10 MONTHS of bringing little Daniel to her daycare and she forgot? Not one thought of that precious little boy all day? 7 HOURS?! Its incredulous and this woman needs to be punished and lose her daycare.

  4. I can remember 10 minutes later if I left the iron or coffee pot on. How anyone could forget a child is beyond conceivable. How could she bring a child to day care and nothing trigger, at any point, where the child is? Isn’t that her job? Don’t they do some sort of head count/role call? I just have no words, except that my heart goes out to the Slutsky’s and that Rimma has to live with what she did.


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