Couple awarded $2 million in child death

Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) ” A couple who lost their 1-year-old daughter to heat stroke after a baby sitter left her in a hot car for nearly an hour plan to meet with Gov. Linda Lingle on Friday to lobby for legislation to protect children.

The meeting comes two days after Timothy and Deona Ryan were awarded $2 million by Circuit Judge Glenn Kim in their wrongful death lawsuit against the baby sitter, Shawna Akin.

Family attorney Mark Davis said Akin, who is now living in Wyoming, failed to reply to the lawsuit the Ryans filed against her. The couple probably won’t be able to collect any of the damages awarded, Davis said.

“This was never about the money,” Timothy Ryan said. “This was about community awareness.”

Ryan was an Air Force tech sergeant at Hickam Air Force Base in February 2004 when his daughter, Aslyn, was left with Atkin. He now works for the U.S. Geological Survey in Arizona.

“We opted to use our daughter as our spokesperson for this,” Ryan said. “We’d just like to prevent another family from suffering the loss that we have suffered that is totally 100 percent preventable.”

Aslyn was left in the back seat of Akin’s car for 50 minutes while she ran errands, the family said.

Akin called 911 for help, but she didn’t tell doctors Aslyn had been left in the car, so when the child went through hospital tests, doctors believed she was suffering from an “overwhelming infection,” the lawsuit said.

“The intentional failure to disclose the information that might have saved her life cost Aslyn her life,” it said.

It wasn’t until an autopsy was completed that it was learned Aslyn died of heat stroke.

Hawaii has no law against leaving children unattended in cars, so Akin was never charged.

The Ryans have become active in the campaign to prevent such deaths. They say more than 350 children have died in the United States since 1998 after being left in a hot car.

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