Thu, November 1, 2007
Tot of Hooters mom dies in car



PHOENIX -- A woman has been charged with negligent homicide after she forgot her 17-month-old son in her hot, stuffy car while she worked her seven-hour shift as a Hooters waitress, police said yesterday.

Ashly Duchene, 22, usually dropped the boy off at a daycare centre on her way to work, but for unknown reasons failed to do so on Tuesday, police Sgt. Joel Tranter said.

Instead, she left her son, Ryan Gallagher, in the car when she arrived at the north Phoenix restaurant at about 10 a.m., police said. When she returned after her shift at nearly 5 p.m., he was dead.

Efforts to revive the boy by witnesses, officers and firefighters were unsuccessful. Temperatures hit nearly 32C on Tuesday, but it would have been more than 38C inside the car, Tranter said.



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Duchene told police she walked to her car, unlocked the driver's door, sat in the vehicle and immediately realized she had forgotten she had left Ryan in the back seat.

Officials believe the boy, who was in a car seat, was invisible to people going in and out of the restaurant and a nearby car wash because the car has tinted windows.

The restaurant was closed Wednesday and was holding counselling sessions for employees.

"Our company is deeply saddened by this terrible tragedy," said Melanie Gulmetti, a regional marketing manager. "Our thoughts are with the mother and her family. We are co-operating fully with authorities."